By Marsha M. Brown
When I sit down every week to write GIG LINE, I usually preface the opportunity by thanking the good Lord for the privilege and then I pray for the guidance to write something that will matter…lift up or encourage in some way those who read it. And that leads me to tell you about what happened two weeks ago.
My sweetie pie Billy (Vietnam veteran) and I were talking about movies, in particular movies about soldiers. Billy said of all the ones he had seen over the years, “We Were Soldiers” was the most realistic from his personal Vietnam experience. When I said that was the one movie I hadn’t seen, Billy suggested we get one, so we did and watched it together that same night. He didn’t say much while it was on but I could tell he was moved and he only spoke when he answered questions about something I didn’t understand. Once the movie was over and he commented on how much he liked the music, we looked for the credits and found the source. Days after, I found the soundtrack in Chesapeake and we bought it. The next afternoon we listened to it in Billy’s truck on the way home from Nags Head and even after arriving at home, we remained seated in his Tundra continuing to listen until it was finished. The tears ran down my face and sitting there I respected his time to quietly reflect and grieve once again. The music was really beautiful and some of the songs were ‘inspired’ by the movie but one in particular called “SGT. McKenzie” reached down to Billy’s core. It was very touching yet haunting and Billy’s tears soon made their way down his cheek. He looked at me and me at him and we reached for each others hand to hold squeezing gently as if he said “Its OK but it still hurts”. Billy cherishes that CD and he has since bought several more to share with Vietnam veteran friends and family. If you have an opportunity, please watch the movie or search out that song title and listen to it but be prepared…it will touch you too.
GIG LINE is a blessing from God. It’s a way for little ole simple me to show honor to not only my true love but to all of the men and women who have served our country. I’m so thankful for a chance to speak to you and to both families of veterans and non veterans as well. I’m proud to bring you good news about things that are happening in Dare County and for the increased interest, support and attention our local veterans are now getting. And when I share a private moment between Billy and I like that with you, its not to make you feel sad but it is to remind us all that the pain of the Vietnam war is still felt today by everyone who experienced it. And no, I don’t want anyone to forget the indelible impressions it made on our soldiers. Their love of country, our people and the heartache they endured should never, ever be forgotten.
I’m thankful for a lot of things in this New Year: businesses who acknowledge your (veteran) service; fellow Veterans Advisory Council members service; our Dare County Veteran I. D. Card that enables business discounts; Veteran Service Officer Rhonda Creef; American Legion and its Auxiliary members; Blue Star Mothers of America; Fraternal Order of Eagles and for every single person in Dare County who show veterans the respect and honor they deserve.
They are some of the very important sources of veteran connection on the Outer Banks but guess what? The newly rejuvenated Outer Banks V. F. W. Post 10950 just met on Wednesday night, January 15th and Billy, who’s a Life Member, was tickled to see the turnout. He’s enthusiastic to be involved again and referred to it as “another voice for veterans who are eligible for membership”. Mr. Jim Norrell, Quarter Master, (252) 489-9421 has been very faithful and ‘steady at it’ encouraging veterans for some time to re-connect with fellow comrades and to help get things back on tract with the V. F. W. here.
During that meeting, Mr. Ernie Allis, North Carolina Department Commander, was also in attendance and new V.F.W. officers were elected as follows: Commander Clark Twiddy; Sr. Vice Commander Wayne Gray; Jr. Vice Commander Bo Simpson; Veteran Service Officer Billy Brown; three Trustees: 3 year Buddy Boyce; 2 year Mark Applebaum and 1 year Billy Brown. It goes without saying that there is a new outlook for the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950. In fact, for those of you who are already members or who are interested in joining, please make every effort to attend the next meeting on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:00 PM – 302 W. Lake Dr., Kill Devil Hills (west side of the by-pass behind T-Tops – in the same building as the American Legion Post 26). Also, please make a note that the V.F.W. will meet monthly each third Wednesday, same time/same place.
Our local V.F.W. Post has been somewhat dormant over the last few years, so it was especially meaningful to Mr. Norell to see new faces breathe new life into the respected organization. Because I appreciate all reputable veteran related organizations but didn’t know requirements for membership in the V.F.W., I researched what they refer as “elite criteria” and realized that per their web site info on www.vfw.org (remember, its org not com if/when you research it), a veteran has to “have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay”.
If we’re a true blue American, we love our country even with her frailties; we stand by our flag…our history…even with the bumps in the road and lessons we’ve learned; we stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans and most especially our veterans who have sacrificed in countless, immeasurable ways – for those who disagreed with wars or conflicts that our men and women were called to serve in…well, maybe at the time our service men and women weren’t all that thrilled with the task either…but they had the guts to do it anyway. They faced it head on and accomplished their mission as they were asked.
Anyone too bored or just plain lazy when it comes to standing up at a public event for the Pledge of Allegiance or for the singing of our National Anthem should hang their head. There’s no excuse for it…especially when you consider how many veterans can’t stand up because they have lost their legs serving honorably for the unpatriotic ones who don’t stand out of choice…don’t get me started folks…I have no tolerance for the intolerant.
LOTS of good things are coming! You’ll see updates in GIG LINE next week on results from the Dare Arts Council’s work for veterans; about Mike Kelly’s special attention to veterans in his great upcoming annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade – March 16th and so much more that I can’t wait to share. Next schedule for getting your Dare County Veteran I. D. Card is Wednesday, January 22, 2014 from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Dare County Administrative Building/Manteo. Be sure to bring your DD-214 (just for us to see) showing HONORABLE discharge and proof of local address.
Until then, be happy, be safe and be proud. And by all means seek out and thank a veteran in your work place, neighborhood, church and school etc. Be sure to tell them they mean a lot to you…to all of us. Love you all and thank you for reading GIG LINE. As usual…stay tuned!