By Marsha M. Brown
I suppose it’s possible that some readers of GIG LINE may wonder at times where the ‘meat and potatoes’ are. No doubt, many of the stories I write are about love, family and friendship of our veteran heroes. Sometimes what I put on paper may seem a little ‘mushy’ even…but rest assured the words are truly inspired and very heartfelt.
The real ‘meat and potatoes’ aspect of GIG LINE are the announcements of new things the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and others are doing to better serve you, our veteran, in some way. And to remind you that you aren’t forgotten; that people do care and that what’s important to you is important to others as well. The Advisory Council is a source of opportunity to seek help, advice, information, resources, referrals, acknowledgment and honor as a respected Dare County veteran. The ‘meat’ of it is to reaffirm that Dare County took additional measures to vamp up attention to the needs of veterans and their families on May 7, 2012.
When I write about the good people dedicated to The American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 or the Fraternal Order of Eagles both based in Kill Devil Hills it is to remind the public of those who strive to bring attention to veterans and to acknowledge veteran contribution to our society, our country and our world…that’s the ‘potatoes’.
Veterans on the Outer Banks have been around forever and a day but many have been quiet. They (you) have often times kept to yourselves. Some have put their former military life in a box (literally) and tucked it away. Others who suffered greatly at the hand of war have chosen not to remember any more than necessary what they went through. Vietnam veterans still feel the pangs of distaste, discord and heartache coming home to a nation they thought would embrace them, welcome them and love them only to be shunned, made ridicule of and rejected. But let me say this, with possibly only a few exceptions, our nation (I think) is sorry for that. We regret the thoughtless, foolish act of rejecting heroes of a hard fought battle and we are ashamed overall. Efforts to undue the harm that was done have occurred over the years and sincere meaningful apologies have been extended in countless ways.
GIG LINE is a ‘folksy’ column that was inspired by you, our veterans. It was created out of love and respect…period.
Over the past year and a half, I have witnessed first hand great strides when it comes to our Dare County veterans. It isn’t to say that we don’t have a long, long way to go but there’s “proof in the pudding” that things are changing for the better. Dare Day, OBX Seafood Festival, two annual “Salute to Veteran” events, floats sponsored by the Blue Star Mothers of America, and veterans walking in front of the everyone else at the annual Mike Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Nags Head are just a few examples of American pride. In 2012, our local American Legion group sponsored a baseball team and I understand they have a goal to sponsor two teams in 2013. Also, Dare County veterans are reaching out to and building a stronger repoire with Currituck and Hyde County veterans to further unite the cause.
I learned a while ago that there was little activity for social networking among veterans. However, in becoming acquainted with Vince Puma of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, I found that not only are they offering a free one year membership to veterans into their organization but they are seeking new and fun ways to unite service members on a social level overall. New and exciting things will be happening across Dare County in the weeks, months and years to come as you will see.
Again, if YOU are a veteran, please contact our Veteran Service Officer, Rhonda Creef. She can be reached at # 252-475-5604 or by emailing her at [email protected]. Rhonda is the best, local source for filing a VA claim and she is more than willing to help you. You can also contact the Advisory Council through email: [email protected]. Emails to the Council are checks consistently and responded to promptly and they are confidential.
You, my veteran friends are an inspiration to me and in turn we hope to inspire others throughout our communities to become more aware, involved and appreciative of our veterans. None of us know it all, nor do we pretend to and as they say “It takes a village to raise a child.” All of us who are dedicated to the diligent effort to celebrate our local heroes are invited to attend our meetings, functions and make suggestions through GIG LINE, the Council, Rhonda and local veteran organizations.
Last week at our church Billy and I donated some military uniforms that we recently acquired. We added them to the ‘Boogie Woogie’ costumes in anticipation for their use in our upcoming third annual “Salute to Veterans” that will be held on Saturday, November 2, 2013. When Billy was taking the camouflage pants, shirts, boots, belts and hats out of the duffle bag a little girl from our church approached him. Her words were simple but very profound. She asked him, “Are they a r-e-a-l soldiers clothes?” Unlike the Boogie Woogie ‘costumes’ that were ordered and mass produced no doubt, Billy explained that, “Yes”, they were “a r-e-a-l soldiers clothes”. He was touched by her interest and especially moved when she asked next, “Can I touch them?” It was very endearing to Billy that this sweet little girl, Sophia Etheridge, found it meaningful to look upon the garments that had been worn by a r-e-a-l soldier who may have been in a war. It brought Billy and I both to tears.
Children live what they learn. That same little girl and her Mom, Delia Etheridge, were both involved in our last “Salute to Veterans” event performing with other adults and young people, the grand…and I do mean…grand finale. Sophia was inspired to have been a part of the presentation. It meant something to her to give honor. That… my friends, is what this is all about.
Please keep reading GIG LINE. Tell others who are veterans or lovers of veterans to do the same and write to me with any suggestions, stories or comments. Until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud and stay tuned…