By Marsha M. Brown
Well, if you were in Manteo yesterday you were probably wondering if you were going to become airborne like Dorothy and Toto! Heavens to Murgatroyd! The rain started, picked up quickly, everything turned almost white outside and lo and behold…the wind gusted furiously enough to blow this ‘fluffy’ ‘ole girl away…and the rain that poured came not straight down but sideways! I looked at our little Yorkie ‘Pepper’ and was about to grab her up and head for the hallway when I heard a loud sound outside as if something cracked or broke.
Now you might be wondering why yesterday’s weather was so significant (waterspout or whatever) to write about it in GIG LINE. I will tell you! A big heavy box on our front deck moved from one side to the other, the rocking chairs rocked like the ghost of great, great Granny had to potty really bad and they almost turned over. My Billy’s favorite 2002 maroon Toyota Tundra parked really close to the deck, where I had just unloaded groceries minutes before, I could not see enough to even tell it was a vehicle…it was that wild outside! My first thoughts…uhhh ohhh…Billy’s flags…his U.S. flag and his P.O.W. flag that were on a regular flagpole and the railing holders! I hesitated to look once the storm had passed feeling quite sure they had changed residence. I should have taken them both in like I do when advance storms come on us, but the wind came so fast and hard, I did not have a chance.
I envisioned they had to be in a tree somewhere (pole and all) or in somebody else’s yard…but thank you Lord! When I opened the door – I could not believe it! After all that, both flags were standing out just like they do on the prettiest of days! Billy was so particular about our flags; they were not just a house decoration or yard ornament; they were beautiful symbols of two critical things to keep in our thoughts all the time. And when we used to ride around and look at houses for the fun of it, he would always mention how much he appreciated our U. S. flag on a porch or deck of someone’s house or business, but then he would say, “The American flag is always supposed to be on the left side when you’re looking from the street” noticing that some were in the middle and some were on the right of the structure. Then, he’d say…”Well, at least they have one…everybody should have one!”
The P.O.W. flag, also known as the P.O.W.*M.I.A. flag, is black and white and its evident what it stands for; a prisoner of war silhouette is in the forefront and a guard tower is behind with barbed wire. Under the encircled symbols of pain and suffering, torture and too often death are the words YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
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That flag says it all so graciously and in a direct contrast, it accompanies our flag of freedom…of our red, white and blue American flag flying to its left at our house. It is a stark reminder to all of us of a promise we do not always keep because sometimes unintentionally, we fall short honoring the heroes we lost unless it is Memorial Day or Veterans Day. It is what it is…an “in your face” reminder that many of our troops never came back to us…it’s a wake-up call of what we take for granted and that the black and white images symbolize honor and memories we should hold dear every single day.
As a member of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council, I am moved every time our Chairman opens our meeting. He starts by welcoming everyone in attendance, then he asks for a Moment of Silence and the Pledge of Allegiance. That is not unusual at a meeting centered around veterans, we have always done that…it is special that he holds us to the full minute and that makes me happy. Can we not all take just one full minute – a quick 60 seconds to bow our heads to remember our fallen and missing in action? Are we in such a hurry that we cannot put other business on hold long enough to do that? Sure, we can, and we should…always!
Billy was not a Prisoner of War…thank the Lord! But the love he had for our deceased veterans was equal to that of our living ones. His heart hurt that so many were injured, died or were never able to set their weary feet on American soil again, to smell the fresh flowers that find their way to bloom and burst with color…or to embrace their loved ones just one more time.
Surprisingly, the two flags that Billy was so proud to display held up in that incredible wind, the poles didn’t break or even bend…they stood in their little metal and PVC holders through it all…just like our mighty men and women of our Armed Forces… tough, strong and resilient. But you have seen it before, YouTube stories and even on the news where our flag has withstood storms, fire, flood and even earthquakes as if a testament to not giving up and not giving in to the perils around it. That happens often with our Bibles too.
When our old family home built in 1936 that was located across the street from Manteo Elementary School burned beyond repair in 1988 it was devastating. Having stayed with my cousin Edward Lee the night it happened, we arrived at the house the following day and went inside to see the black charred shell of a home. In what had been our living room, our eyes burned and blurred from the stench of blackness…it was very dark and damp from the firemen’s attempt to save it. No longer was anything pretty…Mama’s ashes? They went up in smoke the second time and the whole ordeal was a shock to our system.
We held each other and wept smokey gray tears of pure heartbreak. Our friend Carol had met us there to help us…and comfort us…she knew how much we loved that old house, it was my Grandmama Coot and Papa Dan Mann’s house…it was where I grew up and where Billy asked me to marry him in the front yard hugging and kissing me one night by the evergreen bushes…but, guess what? Amidst all that, we found our Bible in tack and only the very outer edges were singed. Every page was in perfectly legible condition…it was a beautiful sight to see. To us it represented that He was with us, in our company…in our pain and heartache; that His word was still as much intact as ever, and that His constant was to never feel He doesn’t ‘get it’ or that we’re alone. For those who do not believe, I am sorry. I can’t make anyone believe as I believe or realize the spiritual side of life from my perspective but those I know who have an analytical point of view; I can only say that what appears to be fact before a conclusion is made can have its down side and reality spoken and shown all around us is yet another thing altogether.
Bibles that make it through incredible catastrophes and flags that fly above the ruins are only a glimpse of what is before us, around us and in us. Just open your eyes and see what has been there all the time and please do not believe anything without giving God and the true American spirit a chance.
Until next time, be healthy, be safe and be happy. Wear your masks, wear your gloves…do not be paranoid but don’t be foolish either and hopefully before long we can hug and kiss our loved ones, our church family, our friends and all those beautiful veteran folks around us again.Please call me at (252) 202-2058 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like because I enjoy and treasure your letters, emails and text messages! If you have a need as a veteran or you know a ‘brother or sister’ who could use a hand, please call Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer (V.S.O.) at (252) 475-5604 or email her at email@example.com – she’ll go out of her way to help you to the very best of her ability, I promise! I love you all whether I know you or not…I truly do! God bless! Stay tuned…