Gig Line: Finally – and guess what?
Published 7:57 am Monday, April 11, 2022
If you’re a Gig Line follower, you’ve no doubt read that I (and others of course) have been working on the possibility of a new project for our veterans. While Gig Line writings honor and celebrate the men and women who have donned the uniform of our U.S. military, in this case, it’s an undertaking to especially honor our Vietnam veterans!
What is it? It’s something wonderful, something that will draw countless veterans and their family members to it. Something that will conjure memories of an extremely strong brotherhood, of deep emotion, of sadness and of a time in the lives of our soldiers, airmen, seamen and Marines that engraved everlasting impressions. It is something that I hope and pray every single person in the area will take the time to see and when they do, I hope they are influenced – in a positive way – and that they feel peace standing in the presence of it. That veterans of our Armed Forces who saw so much and survived will realize more than ever what a blessing it is for us to see them stand there before it, alive still in our lives here on this earth.
This thing of which I speak is a masterpiece, a monumental tribute; it is strong like the bravery it represents. It is symbolic of determination, skill, strength, valor and, most of all, sacrifice.
If you have an opportunity to see it, you will be like many before you. You will likely cry – almost everyone does – you may weep tears when you take it all in. A beautiful and haunting image that like a magnet draws all ages, all faiths, all people from all economic and social backgrounds to it. You will likely want to touch it, after all, it is a treasure, a symbolic gathering place of the bravest, the finest. In its outstanding shadow of remembrances, it may seem almost overwhelming, yet in a mysterious way healing and comforting. And no doubt, dear veteran lovers, you will be touched in a unique and unforgettable way once you’re in its formidable presence.
Very likely you will see knees bent to the ground, wheelchairs or walking sticks for those with ambulatory challenges, bodies bent over making their way to it and tears, lots of tears from the broken hearted. Images of the profound creation to bring us together, to remind us all of our struggle, our hardships, our disappointment at the end and, most assuredly, our loss. Heartaches and recollection of years gone by yet engraved for all time in the hearts and minds of many. Your lives and those you bring with you will be touched and perhaps you will look at a time in our history in a somewhat different way and hopefully more reverent and respectful way.
Perhaps you have guessed it by now: what I reference is the Vietnam veteran’s mobile “Wall” that we hope at some point to host for a three-day visit here on the Outer Banks.
There are two replicas that we contacted which travel from state to state: one is called The Wall That Heals and the other is The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall which are based in separate locations. Reserving them for this year is not possible as every reservation slot had been spoken for some time ago. However, our goal is to apply when the time is open and appropriate. Once we do, it would provide an opportunity for our area to be considered as a site to host and promote the event in 2023 and if we are one of the areas chosen, it would be an incredible time to hug and praise Vietnam veterans in recognition of the years they weren’t.
Almost immediately after our Board of Commissioners created the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council on May 7, 2012, it became a goal of mine to work toward bringing this huge Vietnam veteran honor here. I started working on the plan and at one point met and corresponded with the late (and wonderful) Mary Quidley to figure out what physical location or event site might work to accommodate the size and scope of the display. At one point we tossed the idea of it possibly resting at or near the Wright Brothers Monument property – if agreeable with the National Park Service – but as it turned out, other pressing work of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council was in process, so the initial consideration was postponed for that time being.
Now I’m back at it again! Good Lord willing and with the help and dedication of fellow council members, local veterans and their family members, residents and absentee property owners, business owners, local veteran organizations including Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950, American Legion Post 26, OBX Marine Corps League #1264 members and other groups, we will realize an opportunity to bring this monumental event to fruition sooner than later.
Having spoken with both Wall project managers, it’s clear these two walls are in great demand. And besides that and the finances that will be needed to support the endeavor, we will need potentially 100 to 150 volunteers to help make it happen. Why so many? Because if and when we ever have a chance to commit to hosting The Wall That Heals, let’s say, it comes with not only a 375’ long, 8’ tall (at its peak) replica of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, but also a 52’ trailer offering three videos about the Vietnam War and artifacts, too. Visitors would not only view it during the day, but 24 hours a day and over a period of three days and until 2 p.m. on the fourth day when it closes and prepares to leave. To view it online, please search The Wall That Heals.
We will need lots of donations, lots of people to help lift the panels in place, drive stakes down into the ground, volunteers to learn the site plan, help direct attendees to names inscribed on the Wall (identical exactly to how they are inscribed on the memorial in Washington, DC even if the names are misspelled), assist visitors interested in etching the names of their loved ones as they are written and a host of other things to help make the event not only unforgettable but in a first-class volunteer assisted manner every day.
PLEASE NOTE: At this time, there is no contract, financial commitment or signed agreement to host it, but we are hoping and working toward ascertaining the possibility to help make this happen in the year 2023.
What am I asking veteran supporters to do as red-blooded American patriots, as loving family members of husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends and best friends of those who served and/or died because of their service in Vietnam? Or who came home and developed grave service-related illnesses or medical conditions as a result of exposure to Agent Orange? I’m asking for your interest, that you keep posted as time goes by in our seeking the funding through donations, grants and/or allocations to help bring this event to fruition. If this can happen, it will be a gift of love to all the veterans who have died because of their service there or who suffer various strongholds as a result even today.
Your help will help us to offer this special honor to all who served there, came home in a U.S. flag draped coffin, were disfigured or who suffer the pangs of war every day. We owe these service men and women this major salute and I’m hoping and praying we can all work together to make it happen.
It is true that 2023 is a considerable time away, but as we know, time flies and we can’t afford to put the topic on hold. Rather, we need to get on top of this and begin now to make check lists – contributor and helper lists, come up with ideas to ensure very effective advertising and do all we can to help make the event (if and when we get the chance) to create the most special event possible for our veterans. If you have interest in helping by contributing your time, your money, manpower, advertising help, overnight onsite stays to help guard/protect the lighted memorial and lots of other aspects, please call or text me at 252-202-2058 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the purpose of adding your name to our list prior to notification this fall 2022 that our area has (or has not) been selected as an approved area site for 2023.
Prayer is important. Bathing this topic in prayer could make all the difference folks. I love and miss my Billy, a loyal U.S. Army Vietnam veteran who died in July 2016 due to Agent Orange exposure while serving “boots on ground” in Vietnam during TET. Many of you reading this Gig Line have lost your one true love, too. They suffered there and those who were fortunate enough to be able to come home suffered greatly once here, too. Isn’t it time to say “thank you – we love you and we want to show you how much?”
There is much to be done toward this goal. We’re only just scratching the surface, but keep this in mind, in your heart and most definitely in your prayers. And if you would like to preview what could possibly come here, try to make a trip to Garner as their incredible presentation will be on display through April 3 at the Lake Benson Park, located at 921 Buffaloe Rd. Waze shows it to be 165 miles or three hours one way from here if you should be able to go.
In the meantime, be healthy, be safe and be happy! Thank you as always for reading Gig Line and please know how proud we are of all you awesome veterans! Veteran Service Officer Patty O’Sullivan (252-475-5604) is actively interested and working side-by-side with me and for our Vietnam veterans. If you want to file or investigate submitting a claim or if you need a copy of your DD-214, Patty can help you. Patty is incredible and a “go getter” and she’ll do the absolute best she can to help you! If you’d like to call or text me, my cell is 252-202-2058 or write to me at email@example.com. As always, God bless you and everyone you love! Stay tuned!