By Marsha M. Brown
Food for thought: It’s typical for many if not all of us to receive a blessing on Sunday mornings. Like everyone else, Billy and I are busy every day without exception but on Sundays we look forward to going to church. We enjoy the fellowship, the music, the inspiration and the lessons about life that in our busy world we sometimes overlook or take for granted.
Over the past few weeks our Pastor Steve Smith, whom I call ‘Preacher Steve’, has delivered powerful words from the pulpit. You see…his sermons have focused on the topic, “One Month to Live”. That subject is deep…the thought that one might have such a short time to live here in this life is very, very sad. But, ‘Preacher’ made everyone stop and think…about their life and what their legacy will be once they’re gone.
During the sermon, I looked at my sweetie pie sitting next to me. He was so handsome. He was wearing one of my favorite pair of pants and shirt. I studied his silhouette for a minute and I thought about how life had changed for us in the last two years. I remembered how I used to feel before “GIG LINE” when I yearned for a way to honor him and every other man and woman who had served our country when I felt there was less than adequate celebration of the veterans around us. Then, I thought about the changes that had come about over the last 24 months and the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council too. I thought about the committed good folks who have worked together to turn things around for our heroes. My mind hugged the American Legion Post 26 guys and the Fraternal Order of Eagles along with both of their Auxiliaries who care about our veterans. And…then of course I thought about all of the veterans who have blessed my life.
I sat there listening as ‘Preacher’ preached and as usual, I took notes. I considered the dreams people have of things they want to achieve in their life time and to be honest…I felt content. In the process of the message our ‘Preacher’ delivered, I knew I was blessed to be married to the most wonderful man in the world; I smiled when I thought of our beautiful children and grandchildren and how absolutely precious and wonderful…each and every one of them are; I sat there and considered the really tough times we had been through as a couple and I embraced the people and prayers that helped us along the way. I was content with the knowledge that life is different now…that it’s better than it’s ever been in many ways. We’re happy in the Lord, we aren’t rich that’s for sure but we’re OK; we do things we enjoy with people we enjoy doing it with; we work at part time jobs that we like and with people we respect; the company we keep consists of not just friends but good friends, the kind of ‘stick by you through thick and thin’ friends…we love our church and we work for veterans…incredible, brave and outstanding…veterans. We’re happy that God has given us the opportunities He has; we’ve learned through first hand experience time and time again that He listens to prayers and answers them according to His will…when the time is right.
Somebody who knew that Billy and I both serve on the Veterans Advisory Council asked me the other day what the ‘Council’ does. I said…”Well, let me tell you and excuse me if I brag…”The Council was established by the Dare County Board of Commissioners effective officially on May 7, 2012; there are seven Council Members and all but one are veterans who have honorably served our nation; each month in our meetings we Pledge Allegiance to our beautiful flag and we bow our heads in a Moment of Silence remembering those who have yet to return still Missing in Action or who are Prisoners of War; Rhonda Creef, our Veterans Service Officer, meets with us faithfully every month and while she keeps her contact with veterans confidential, she offers her sincere, committed support to our Council members and to all Dare County veterans who reach out; in the meetings, we discuss our Dare County veterans and what we can do for them, to honor them, to show our pride in them and to celebrate their contribution to our society, protecting our freedoms; together, our Council created the Veteran I. D. Card distributed only to Dare County veterans with proof of a DD-214 showing HONORABLE discharge and local residency; whenever the opportunity presents itself we encourage veterans to register their DD-214 with the Register of Deeds for safe keeping and to further ensure their eligibility to receive military honors at their passing one day; we’ve connected with area businesses to engage them in a show of respect and gratitude to our local veterans by offering them a discount on the goods and services that our veteran I. D. Card holders receive; we’ve been to veterans homes who are struggling physically – or who are frustrated or discouraged still waiting for a response from their claim for VA benefits; through the American Legion Post 26 we’ve helped deserving veterans obtain expensive motorized wheelchairs; we’ve sought a clear understanding of how various County entities assist our veterans during emergencies – to be specific, assistance through Social Services and Emergency Management; we’ve sought a better understanding of how the U.S.O. works to benefit veterans across North Carolina; we’ve worked in conjunction with County municipalities particularly the Town of Kill Devil Hills to celebrate Vietnam veterans; we’ve participated in Dare Day, the OBX Seafood Festival and that’s just a few of the things we’ve done. Then, I said, “We were established as an ‘Advisory’ group…and we do offer advice, but in addition…we offer our support, encouragement and a steadfast friendship”. I told them that our networking local veterans’ was working; that we’re seeing more evidence of veteran pride throughout the County not to mention an increase in personal communication between ‘our’ veterans. Then, I ended with, “And…if you have another day or two to listen, I can keep on going…!”
I’ve learned so much in the past two years…but I still have a long way to go. I’ve learned from Billy that you can never, e-v-e-r be too proud of our United States of America and those who have served to defend her. And those of you who are World War II veterans? You’ve taught me that while you’re a little older and tend to bend just a tad…you are still the tallest and the mightiest. Thank you for your service and God bless you.
We all need to think about the legacy we’ll leave behind folks. Maybe if we do, we’ll be kinder to our fellow man, more loving to our spouse and children, spend more time doing things that make us the best we can be for ourselves and for each other. If you aren’t happy, please try to be. Life is short, unpredictable and fragile. You can make a positive difference in someone’s life every day. Embrace who you are and love yourself because you’re the only one of you in this huge great big world. Look for veterans to thank, honor and support each and every day. Pray for the families who long to see loved ones who are deployed or in harms way.
Every Tuesday from now until December 17th this year, we will be available to meet with you to obtain your Veteran I. D. Card at the Dare County Administrative Building in Rm. 168 (downstairs) from 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m. – the only exception being Nov. 5th at which time we’ll meet from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. upstairs in Rm. 142. We still have 19 businesses in Dare County that partnered with our Veteran I. D. Card and who care about you. Please help us multiply that number and refer businesses to Billy or me to sign up and partner with the ‘CARD’.
Until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud and thank the veterans around you. Thank you for reading GIG LINE too. Call me at (252) 202-2058 or write to me at [email protected] and…stay tuned.