By Marsha M. Brown
If you missed the fundraiser for Richard & Anna Baum last Saturday, August 3rd you really missed a blessing! The day…couldn’t have been nicer and even in the later afternoon when we heard two separate rounds of thunder, folks kept coming…and coming…and coming through the door. Besides the large attendance, let me share with you why it was such a beautiful day – not just for the Baum’s but for all of us.
Weeks before and after the initial plan for the fundraiser was presented and thankfully embraced by the deserving couple, we investigated sources of help throughout our communities. We called on familiar dependable sources for whatever assistance they could provide – plain and simple. Naturally in order to promote a fish fry we reached out to our watermen/commercial fishermen (who face their own challenges to maintain their heritage and their right to safe and reasonable passage to the ocean just to be able to fish) – who stepped up to the plate without hesitation; we talked to local advertisers who joined forces to help get the word out; to families of Manteo First Assembly, Wanchese Assembly of God and Bethany United Methodist Church for help with desserts and we contacted friends and others for cooking ingredients, paper products and side dishes necessary to prepare, cook and serve the two main dishes that were offered – fried fish and/or hot dog plates. And when I say ‘we’ I’m referring to ‘Team Baum’ as I dubbed it…virtually e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e who helped including a Wanchese couple (he also served in Vietnam) especially who first referred us to Richard & Anna. They in turn busily sought every way possible to help recruit others to help too. Their kindness, concern and interest in seeing the event come to fruition and be successful made a big difference. Thank you.
Thanks be to God, our outreach for help was met and exceeded with a willingness to share and big ‘air wave’ hugs were felt over the phone even from those we’d never met. A genuine concern for Richard and Anna resonated and none of the folks we talked to were grumpy or rude or unwilling to help…even in these economic times. When a team of two young, very gifted local musicians were asked if they would provide live music, they happily agreed…and even when we prepared a flyer that would give information on how to contact them for events, they reneged – simply saying they wanted the event to totally focus on the Baum family taking no credit for their contribution and refusing to detract from the purpose of the gathering…to help Richard and Anna. Not only did they help but several more seasoned musicians, offered their help too, so we had two bands – one in each room playing for an hour at the time to give each other rest.
The dedicated members of the Wanchese Lions Club were, as usual, gracious, kind and devoted to the betterment of mankind. They brought their open air cooking trailer and fried fish on a very hot summer day no doubt sweating bullets…for the good of a friend, neighbor, waterman and fellow veteran. The fish? Oh my goodness! It was some of the best we’ve ever eaten and even five days later as I write this GIG LINE, people are still talking about how good it was! To be honest, I think it was more than the batter, seasonings and even the loving hands that prepared it…I think it was anointed!
You always worry when you work on an event like that…you worry about the weather even though the event was held inside…you worry about the food…will there be enough?…or will we unintentionally waste it preparing more than we needed?…will everyone come? But shortly after we started the fundraiser, we soon realized that prayers had been answered and things were going even better than we had hoped. No clichés, no shortage of food or desserts and certainly no shortage of people! I’m not kidding when I say it couldn’t have been nicer and no question about it, we welcomed several hundred people.
From the help with advertising; the creation of tickets; those who circulated tickets; to the kitchen crew who chopped, sliced and filled countless plates; handled and bagged the take-outs; served the iced tea; cut a gazillion yummy desserts; decorated the dining room; cleaned the Youth House before, during and after the event…THANK YOU! S-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y! THANK YOU ALL! It is because of you that together we could pull off a really nice family event for a nice family. Because of everyone pulling together, the day was a great success for the Baum’s and for everyone who was witness to how good people coming together and lots of prayers work hand in hand.
Several times prior to their arrival at the Youth House that morning Anna had told me that Richard was a very private man who didn’t talk about personal business. She said she was surprised he was willing to allow everybody to make such a fuss over him because he mostly stayed quietly at home leaving the house only rarely for his doctor appointments. But this was their day to be honored together, for their overwhelming life struggles and for his service to our country.
Just prior to the event starting at 11:00 AM I left the Youth House to get something I had forgotten when Richard and the love of his life arrived at 10:30. Billy said their face spoke volumes. He said they were very touched to see what everybody had done to bring it all together and that Anna was moved to tears. The smiles on each of their faces after all they had been through and were still going through were contagious and the feeling overall was positive, thankful and joyous. And as people of all ages poured into our Youth House at Manteo First Assembly, the tears frequently rolled down Anna’s sweet face. She was proud of the number of people who cared about them both and she was thankful that Richard could see for himself that his solid reputation as an accomplished, dedicated waterman and Vietnam veteran had not been forgotten.
Their two beautiful grown children ‘Little’ Richard and Carolyn, their sweet grandchildren, Richard’s precious 93 year old Mama, all six of Anna’s sisters and one of Richard’s brothers (who also played in the band) and sister all came to share the day with this special couple. Another brother who was absolutely unable to come was missed by all. The Baum’s church family from Wanchese Assembly of God, family and friends across Wanchese, Manteo, the Mainland, Colington and Hatteras Island all came to show their love, respect and support. And…another bunch of folks came too…Richard’s military and Vietnam brothers. There in his wheelchair Richard sat proudly wearing his Vietnam veteran hat and T-shirt. When I saw him smile, knowing he was hurting, I felt proud for him and Anna and I felt God smile too. Our friend was in a position of honor. Richard Baum like so many of our Dare County boys went to an unforgettable place during an unforgettable time, saw unimaginable things and came home…they all came back home surely by the grace of God. And when my eyes went from Richard to Billy to Will to Ted to Roger to Dean, then to Steve to Robbie to Barry and then to Ray…I was thankful, very thankful. They came to show they were still brothers united under special circumstances and in a way that only ‘they’ could understand. That look in the ‘brothers’ eye – one to another – was silent but powerful, steadfast and undeniable.
Veterans from all the branches of the service came to share in the day. Topics about where the veterans were stationed in the 1960’s dominated the conversations and I was tickled when not only handshakes but hugs were exchanged. It was special that people came who had never met Richard or Anna before solely on the basis of seeing street signs that announced the event for a “Vietnam Veteran”. At one point a gentleman vacationer came in who immediately noticed my sweetie pie Billy wearing his Vietnam veteran hat embellished with pins (symbols that tell a story). In my view their hat is the book and the ‘pins’ are the chapters. And that ‘brother’ with one look knew the deal right away and he reached out his hand to grasp Billy’s. Then he said, “Welcome home brother!” WOW…I was about to bawl. They briefly exchanged conversation about when and where they served in Vietnam and then Billy escorted him into the dining room area to introduce him to Richard…one brother to another.
That day a lot of people impressed me and sometimes I’d tear up just watching sacrifice in action. I remembered what my friend ‘Bibber’ had recently told me that she had read in a book. Though I can’t quote it perfectly, she said the author described how there could be no sacrifice without love and no love without sacrifice…her summation rang so true. Nobody had to beg or crawl until their knees bled in order to get the help we needed. Folks turned out to work, to give…to provide for another. That’s because Outer Bankers are there for each other like I’ve said before. If folks can do it, they will. If they can’t well…we thank them anyway for being willing to if they could.
And speaking of thankfulness, I want to thank the veterans from Corolla and Northern Virginia who not only called me but wrote to me about GIG LINE and about the special event for the Baum’s. I love you all so much. I love your steadfast unwavering American spirit; your love for fellow veterans; your love for the Marine’s (I cherish my letter); I love that many veterans have served in more than one branch of service; that you are gentlemen through and through and that while you’ve been as tough as nails (through necessity or when simply following orders), you still have gentle caring hearts and…I love that you make no bones about proclaiming your love and devotion not only for your country but to your wives as well. You are all my heroes. You truly are. Thank you for prayers and for honoring Richard Baum for serving in the U. S. Army in Vietnam. Thank you for being the kind of men (and women) who make this country the greatest nation on earth. Thank you for taking part in a special day for wonderful, deserving people.
We’ll be issuing more Dare County Veteran I. D. Cards as follows:
MANTEO – Dare County Admin. Building Rm. 168 (downstairs left of reception desk)
Thursday, August 22nd 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Tuesday August 27th 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
BUXTON – Fessenden Center
Wednesday, August 28th 11:00 – 2:00 PM
Please don’t forget to bring your DD-214 (proof of military discharge or separation of service) and proof of your local Dare County address. Your HONORABLE DISCHARGE certificate is not the DD-214. The DD-214 shows when you became active military, how long you served, where you served, your rank, your medals and it must show HONORABLE discharge or separation. You can go online and just enter in the SEARCH area “sample DD-214” or come to one of our scheduled dates above and we’ll be happy to show you the sample. Also, if you registered it with the Dare County Register of Deeds office when you came home, you can get a copy of it from them at no charge.
Also regarding the ‘CARD’…you can now use it for discounts at 16 area businesses (as listed in Sunday, August 4th Coastland Times) including the newly added Stripers Bar & Grille Waterfront Restaurant – located in Manteo between McDonald’s and Darrell’s Restaurant which also honors the ‘CARD’. Isn’t that great? If you have questions or comments, I welcome them either through [email protected] or you can call my cell (252) 202-2058.
Be happy, be safe, be proud and thank a veteran…they so deserve it. I have lots and lots of new things to tell you about in the coming weeks, so my friends, until next time please stay tuned…