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Gig Line: Memorial Day – What does it mean to you?

Memorial Day – a very special annual day of remembrance recognized this year on Monday, May 27. To veterans it’s a day of acknowledgement of the lives of fellow service men and women who have sacrificed everything in the line of duty, a commemoration, a tribute to brothers and sisters who literally took the bullet for the rest of us.

I remember last year hearing someone ask, “Why does everybody say, Happy Memorial Day? Because it’s really a sad when you think about it, it’s the day that earmarks the loss of so many of our heroes!” and later when I thought about what they had said, I realized how significant their point was. As I understand it, the tradition started post-Civil War when family members decorated the graves of their loved ones who had died in battle. Towns across our country have claimed to be the initial holiday birthplace which was first known as “Decoration Day” then, later officially changed to “Memorial Day.” Regardless, does it even matter who was first to do it? Just so we do it – honor our fallen heroes, that is the essence.

To be totally honest, as much as I miss my hero Billy (three years this July 12) every single day, these past couple of months have been especially hard. Folks always say, time heals all wounds and I believe that but everything patriotic blesses my heart and then reminds me of Billy. Each one of you who have served are precious to me and yes at times I see some of you and the tears roll . . . even almost three years later. It’s because you remind me of him and his love for our country and you as his brother or sister. Its because our beautiful American flag isn’t just a reminder of Betsy Ross (God bless her), it reminds us of what the three striped colors symbolize.

Research tells us that in 1776 when the Continental Congress authorized a committee to create a seal for our nation, they wanted it to encompass the Founding Fathers “beliefs, values and sovereignty of the new Nation,” hence the colors and every element has specific meaning. “The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United State of America; white signifies purity and innocence, red, hardiness and valour and blue, the color of the chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.” And in a book about the flag published by the House of Representatives, “The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.”

The way I take that – from age old beliefs – heaven meant something extremely special, which of course it is; and rays of light represented hope for us all.

This Memorial Day, I will first and foremost remember our fallen and the loved ones that war has left behind. My heart will treasure the years widows and widowers have shared with loved ones; celebrate their deep abiding love of America; praise their undeniable bravery and crow about the profound effect they have had on all of us. I can do this because I am proud . . . proud of the United States of America and the men and women who have fought to keep it just that . . . “One nation, under God.”

Enjoy this monumental holiday, embrace each other, gives lots of hugs and kisses to those you love; reunite with those whom have been estranged – life is too short to fight or not talk to each other, no matter how mad they made you; forgive the unforgiveable and in your prayers thank our Lord for those who fell on the battlefield, the jungles, the deserts, in the air and on the water never to get up again.

If you can attend our local Memorial Day Ceremonies, please do as follows:

9 a.m. – Southern Shores Cemetery (0 S Dogwood Trail, Southern Shores)

10 a.m. – Austin Cemetery, (4321 Rogers St., Kitty Hawk)

11 a.m. – Nags Head Town Hall (5401 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head, MP 14.5)

11 a.m. – Manteo Cemetery (Cemetery Rd., Manteo)

11:30 a.m. – Dare County Veterans Memorial (300 Queen Elizabeth Ave., Manteo, by old courthouse).

12:30 p.m. – Veterans Memorial, Kill Devil Hills (102 Town Hall Dr.)

My two cents worth? Enjoy the day! Remember our blessings, which are great! Look for veterans who boast their military branch hat, t-shirt or uniform; take the time to shake their hand, give them a hug or just say “thank you.” If they’re across the way, wave and give them a thumbs up. Remember that the veterans or active duty military you see, no matter where you are at the time, they very likely personally know or served alongside the heroes we remember on Memorial Day who are no longer with us today. And, too, consider our service men and women who came home from war but ultimately died on our soil from wounds they   survived originally and from exposures to Agent Orange.

Until next time, be healthy, safe and happy. Stay true blue to America regardless of politics – differing opinions and just and unjust criticisms. We are one country and we should stay united no matter outside influences. I love you all. God bless you! Stay tuned . . .

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

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