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Gig Line: Memories

To most people, March 29, 2019 was just another day . . . but not to Vietnam veterans and the family members who love them.

A Military Times REBOOT CAMP article addressed in detail the coming of this very special day in which we remember and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of our men and women who served in the Vietnam War.

Thankfully, Vietnam Veterans Day was declared on March 29, 2012 by then-President Obama and again, thankfully, President Trump more recently signed the “Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017.” Officially, we are encouraged to commemorate and acknowledge Vietnam veterans annually on that day.

I write often about my husband who served with our U. S. Army in the Vietnam War during T.E.T. – a time in his life when he grew up in a Christian home; had special interests in cars, hydroplanes, fishing and working who was raised by a Baptist minister and how he had later seen the other side of life (and death) front and center. My cherished Billy grew up quick – really quick just like all the others who served “boots on ground” in a hellhole.

Going from a quiet town of Manteo as a Pastor’s son and in a home where cuss words were never spoken, cigarettes never used or even seen, where his bed sheets were crisp, white, wrinkle free as if they were painted on. Where most people never locked their front doors – even at night – and his daily routine was going to Manteo High School (until he graduated), eating delicious home cooked meals, working his part time job at the Times Office after school and just living life. But after graduation and just when he and his buddies were in the process of enlisting in our U. S.  Navy, he was drafted like so many during that period and his life changed forever.

Many of you may read Gig Line faithfully and I’m so grateful for that and perhaps some of you think to yourself, is this column about Billy and Vietnam again? But folks, if you’ve lived with a vet who endured that war and the residual effects, you do think about it and often. You wish wars weren’t necessary anywhere, anytime for any reason. You wish that in order to keep peace, the consequences of doing so didn’t result in deaths, you wish we could just love life, our home lands and each other across the waves, mountains, through the jungles and over the deserts. You realize your wish isn’t reality.

War is a horrible thing and we all know it but without it what else would we do? Would we just fold and let the corrupt, communistic dominators overtake us? Our country? Our values? Our way of life? No, we can’t. We cannot succumb to tyranny, domination and fear for our lives, our families, our spiritual beliefs, our economy and our very existence that is so precious. We are the country everyone wants to come to . . . doesn’t that tell everyone that we have something special to protect and defend? Would we turn our backs on nations that befriend us leaving them more vulnerable to being overtaken by dictatorship?

My husband loved this country, he loved our flag and every single symbol of American patriotism there is and for that matter, the veterans I talk to all the time share that same indelible spirit. Sometimes when I see or hear the news, it sickens me. And to be honest with you all, regardless of political affiliation any of us have, a lot of what’s going on today is ridiculous and INEXCUSABLE!

We’ve allowed patriotism, freedom of speech and public expressions of faith to be side stepped – no, stomped on for the sake of hurting someone’s feelings and political correctness! Shame on the pushers of that agenda and shame on us for weakening at the knees and letting it happen. Why, I ask you, why have all our men and women died in all the wars throughout history that fought for our American freedoms? We say we remember September 11th, but do we? Has the torture and screams of agony and funeral after funeral faded from our memory so much so that we don’t fully appreciate what we stand or stood for back then? What we’ve always stood for together? Have we forgotten how we stood hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder swearing to defend our nation to the fullest extent together?

Personally, I don’t care what excuse, rhyme or reason anybody must continually criticize our way of life; dishonor our military penalizing a private citizen/veteran because he established an American flag on his own property causing unnecessary court battles, expenses to defend his position without penalty or retribution because it “offends” someone? Seriously? It’s unconscionable to promote, pass a bill or legislation for a perfectly healthy fully developed baby to be destroyed just before delivery or even be allowed to die after delivery for goodness sake . . . who can attempt to believe that is acceptable? Why do we have an emergency 9-1-1 number to call? Why do we have ambulances, EMS, fire and rescue if not to save lives and fend off death? WHAT, dear Lord, has happened to us?

Like my husband, I love this country so much. I love what it stands for, for the hard working families that come together despite their differences when tragedy strikes; that we (used to) worship according to what we knew growing up and if we chose later in life to travel a different faith, that was okay too. None of us ever want to see a blue flashing light behind our car but we’re so glad to see them come to our rescue if needed . . . that our churches, pastors and faith-based individuals are being treated like a rotting carcass . . . all because our wearing a cross or symbol of faith might offend another? Dear Lord . . . what have we become? This madness has got to stop!

Yes, I do talk about Vietnam – the look on Billy’s face, the blank stares out of the window when he’d remember or relive his mind’s eye war zone . . . the heartache he felt day in and day out never forgiving himself for what he had to do to protect his men and survive? Yes, I’m grateful for the day of acknowledgement from President Obama in 2012 and for the provision President Trump took to permanently earmark annually that on March 29 we don’t forget our Vietnam veterans.

All veterans are special and if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I thank and love them all. And for everyone who’s reading this Gig Line – stand strong, don’t wimp out or be afraid that you’ll offend somebody. Be respectful of everyone, always and understand that there are lots of good folks who may disagree with you – it’s their option and they’re entitled – but let your love of country, support of our nation (even with our flaws) make you steadfast and stubborn enough not to give in or give up on what’s right.

Until next time, be happy, be healthy, be safe and be proud. Hug a vet, show/tell them their value; set an example for your children, grandchildren, classroom, Sunday school class and neighbors’ pride in our flag; cherish our symbols of patriotism; help instill in others the respect our country is due. Our United States of America is worthy of defense inside and out. Pray and pray hard for our deployed troops. If you wish to write to me, please do: giglineheroes@aol.com. Between now and then, I’ll be thinking of you, as always. I love you all. Stay tuned.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION PAGE.

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