Gig Line: Anticipating ‘In Memory’

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and its committee to facilitate bringing The Wall That Heals here is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Meeting every two weeks, the committee has been busy offering presentations to the townships and different organizations that can help expedite getting the word out so that our locals and visitors alike can be present for its arrival this November. The itinerary will be fully revealed in due time, but I can assure you, it will be an event no one will ever forget.

As a North Carolina real estate broker/Realtor in Dare County for close to 40 years now, I remember the days when there was very little rental activity following Labor Day. Not so anymore! Our fall season (my favorite) is one of the most beautiful times of year with the weather typically mild and perfect for scanning the beach for shells and beach glass. The costs to rent homes are reduced considerably being the “off” season; the restaurants that remain open after Columbus Day (this year being Monday, October 9) are mostly void of long waits to be seated; many retailers who remain open offer great sale prices in the process of clearing out this year’s inventory for the new or trendy items for 2024. Besides that, for many who have considered buying real estate on the Outer Banks, access to view properties for sale is typically more convenient and the list goes on.

There are all kinds of activities in the fall and additionally, consider this: as a military veteran of these great United States, you are acknowledged in very special ways. If you’re here visiting during Veteran’s Day – consider extending it into a week’s stay. We recognize our vets not just one day a year – no, we have a Veteran’s Week with all sorts of perks as in special events, discounts at the stores, entertainment and the well-attended Outer Banks Veterans’ Writing Project. As I alluded to earlier, this year for the first time ever, The Wall That Heals will arrive on Tuesday, Nov. 14, assembled the following day and on Thursday, Nov. 16, an official ceremony will take place. From that point forward, it will remain open 24 hours a day to all visitors (free admission) until Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. when it closes down to be dismantled and prepared for its departure.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

The reason I bring this up frequently is because I’m encouraging you to be cognizant of the fact that while the traveling replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be open officially on Thursday that week, it will actually arrive into Dare County on the 14 escorted by several hundred bikers and Jeeps – a BIG deal, folks! This will be an unforgettable time in the lives of our surviving Vietnam veterans and their family and friends. The grand arrival of The Wall That Heals will remind us of the 58,000-plus men and women who died fighting for freedom and against oppression – a spectacle not to miss.

As Outer Bankers, we should warmly embrace this event so that our Vietnam veterans who suffered through not only the Vietnam War but the aftermath that followed just how much we appreciate them and the sacrifice they made. We need to show “the love” in an extraordinary way. They deserve that. It’s long overdue. It’s sickening that our servicemen and women who lived through the hell there suffered again when they came home not having been greeted with warmth and pride but rejection and further heartache. This is our chance to say “THANK YOU.”

The Wall That Heals will bring tears to many by the sheer presence of thousands of names inscribed who died while serving in Vietnam. It has been described by many as a source of healing and we can’t help but be blessed just being a part of it. “Brothers” and “sisters” will come to this traveling memorial to reflect, grieve and privately thank the comrades they loved and lost. The vast education center onsite will show/teach us things we never knew and I believe we will be touched by what we see, hear and feel in its presence.

Patty O’Sullivan, our veterans service officer who is also the wife of a Vietnam veteran, has shared verbatim information noted below regarding the “In Memory” program. Please share the additional information she has provided as a way in which to honor those who survived but since coming home died because of exposure to Agent Orange.

“One of the features on The Wall That Heals is the In Memory program. The In Memory program provides a way for family members and friends to honor those who returned home from Vietnam and later passed away. When a Vietnam veteran is honored through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s (VVMF) In Memory program, their photo will be included on an Honor Roll display alongside the images of other honorees from North Carolina. To be included in the In Memory Honor Roll display when “The Wall That Heals” comes to Dare County in November 2023, the VVMF must receive the application by October 13, 2023. The application can be completed and submitted online OR printed and mailed to: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Attention: In Memory Program 3033 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 300 Arlington, VA 22201. In addition to submitting an application, applicants must also provide copies of the following documentation in order to be accepted into the In Memory program: ● A DD214 (or other record that provides proof of service in the Vietnam War) ● A death certificate ● Two clear photographs of the honoree (the VVMF recommends one photo from the Vietnam era and one photo that is more recent, if possible). If you are unable to complete the application yourself and do not have a family member available to assist you, please contact Dare County Veterans Services Officer Patty O’Sullivan at 252-475-5604 (office) or 252-473-7749 (cell), who will be happy to assist you. Please Note: The ‘In Memory’ program honors all Vietnam veterans who have passed away, enabling the families and friends of those who came home and later died the opportunity to have them forever memorialized. The In Memory program is inclusive to honor all Vietnam Veterans, regardless of their cause of death.”

There is another surprise that I cannot reveal now but to give you a hint. One of the most popular students in Manteo High School when I was a freshman went on to serve in Vietnam and he is working on a book that, in my opinion, has the makings of a best seller. Because he asked me to review the chapters he has drafted, I have found his testimony and account of the war to be a compelling piece of work. I have already learned much of what I had never heard my husband Billy, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, talk about in almost 50 years of marriage before he passed due to Agent Orange exposure. His book will bring you to a greater understanding of what life was really like for one of our own hometown boys while serving in Southeast Asia. I will keep you posted as his project progresses but once it’s in print and you start reading it, you’ll find it hard to put down. I’ll say it again and again: to know a Vietnam veteran is to know a hero.

Until next time, be healthy, safe and happy. Love yourself first and love our veterans and active duty. Please pray for our troops near and far and for their loved ones who sit and wait … and wait. With so many troubling issues that surround us daily, consider that our military forces have dwindled, recruitment is reportedly way down. That’s scary folks. If you would like to talk to our veteran service officer Patty O’Sullivan, call her office at 252-475-5604, her cell at 252-473-7749 or email her at patricia.o’sullivan@darenc.gov. While Patty can’t guarantee you anything, I can guarantee you that she will do her best to help you in any way she can by listening, answering questions, helping you submit a V.A. claim and so much more. If you would like to contact me, please do. My cell number is 252-202-2058 or email me at giglineheroes@aol.com. For previous Gig Line columns, check out giglineheroes.com. Just know that the good Lord that I know, loves you and so do I! God bless you. Stay tuned!

READ ABOUT NEWS AND EVENTS HERE.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE COASTLAND TIMES TODAY!