By Marsha M. Brown
Over the last five years as an active veteran advocate, I’ve have had the pleasure and honor of meeting and talking with a lot of vets. I’ve also spoken at length with a lot of veteran spouses, children, other family members and friends and if there is one realization I have come to, it’s that with little exception veterans ‘don’t forget’. No matter their health, their age or the every day distractions in their life…they rarely forget the people who inspired them to serve our great nation; the people whom they served with; the people they most looked up to during their military career; the heartaches they endured especially as combat service men and women…and the goodness of people who appreciate them and love them.
Some time ago my ‘sweetie pie’ Billy and a fellow Vietnam veteran friend were talking about our older generation of veterans, especially those who had served during WWII. During their conversation he told Billy that while his father who typically n-e-v-e-r spoke about his war experience, just came right ‘out of the blue’ one day and recalled an image of horror that he had witnessed. The two men looked at each other and while their verbal exchange was brief, it was obvious to me they each felt their own personal pangs of war. It was clear…more…was said in silence. Both having been front & center could identify with the remembrance of his father’s recollection. That particular topic and the ‘recall’ was brief but they each understood the words of the older seasoned veteran because they too had seen it…heard it…and smelled it first hand themselves. It reminded me of the conversations I’ve been privy to over time with veterans of all ages, especially combat veterans and I could see in their face and hear in their voice sadness…but also their pride having performed to the best of their ability…above and beyond…to protect…defend and to fulfill their call of duty…for their brothers and their mentors.
Veterans don’t forget…their recollections are time pieces…significant…priceless, golden treasures of the heart and of the mind. And whether expressed freely or held tight…they’re not forgotten but…then again…kindnesses shown to our veterans aren’t forgotten either. On numerous occasions over the years Billy expressed the impression the Salvation Army volunteers had made on him and his buddies as they prepared to board the ship en route to their dreaded destination…Vietnam. He said they offered the troops “hot coffee and donuts at no charge”. It was a gesture of kindness…perhaps not a big deal to some people but to the men and women who were about to encounter a life changing ‘cruise’, it was major. Free coffee and donuts? A big, really big deal.
Speaking of kindnesses…we have a lot of good people in our midst who seek opportunities to acknowledge and honor our veterans. Case in point: if you remember, over the past few weeks I‘ve mentioned that the Manns Harbor Church of God, 7418 U.S. Highway 64 (across from White’s Shopping Center), Manns Harbor, NC 27953 – contact phone: (252) 564-5392 wanted to host a Veterans’ Appreciation Dinner from 6 PM – 8 PM this Thursday, February 16th with fried chicken, 2 sides, coffee/tea & a dessert and like the Salvation Army…”at no charge”/free to veterans. This dinner is especially for veterans, however others who might accompany/transport a vet are also welcome and if they would like to make a donation for their meal it would be appreciated. Please call the number noted above if you have further questions and give a head count of those attending to ensure there is plenty for everyone! 🙂 They hope that our community veterans will come & connect with fellow veterans of all ages from all branches of service. Even though everybody these days are really busy, it would mean a lot to the folks at the church to see you there. No big long speeches…just fellowship, good food and comradery.
Also…if you’re a veteran who has not yet acquired your free Dare County Veteran I.D. Card (which entitles you to discounts at over 60 businesses in Dare County) the dinner at Manns Harbor Church of God will provide an ideal opportunity to get one. All that is required from you is that you bring your DD-214 showing Honorable Discharge and your Driver’s License. If you don’t live here full time but are a property owner in Dare County (of either improved or vacant land), you are welcome to acquire your Card, however please also bring a Dare County Tax Bill or utility bill for the property that is in your name for verification.
Lastly and also very importantly… the annual Mike Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is coming up soon! If you’d like to join in with all the other veterans in leading the parade…either by walking or riding, PLEASE contact Carl Reiber, Vice Chairman of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council at (252) 441-9469. If you don’t reach him initially, p-l-e-a-s-e leave him a message so that he can return your call. Carl is a retired U. S. Army Colonel, a member of the American Legion Ft. Raleigh Post 26 and the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 if you are interested in joining their membership or transferring your membership to our local Posts. If you’re a Hatteras Island veteran or Dare County non resident property owner, please contact Gary Kierney (Hatteras Island), a veteran himself, who is again making arrangements for transportation to the parade for veterans from Hatteras Island.
Ok…al-righty then! I’ll look for you…so please try to make it! And if you have a question that I can help you with in the mean time, please call me at (252) 202-2058 or write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud…because we sure are PROUD of you! God bless you all…I love you…and I hope to see you at the dinner and at the Parade! Stay tuned!