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Gig Line: A Widow’s Memorial Day

Our incredible Memorial Day originally came about to honor military personnel who had died during the Civil War (1861-1865), however, over the years it expanded to embrace all who have died as a result of serving our United States military in all wars and it is also referred to as Decoration Day. It is a day that we as Americans typically dedicate time in which to respectfully honor our fallen.

During this trying and unprecedented time, we are going through heartbreak, hardship and loss in every direction and this plague has regrettably influenced many changes in our great country’s annual event schedules, unfortunately including Memorial Day gatherings. Some of our most beautiful, memorable and touching ceremonies have had to be set aside (temporarily) to help keep our nation as safe as possible while we are beginning to emerge from the darkness this COVID-19 has caused. That being said, there are no scheduled events or public gatherings to my knowledge for this treasurable Memorial Day on the Outer Banks at the time of this writing, Friday, May 22.

But even if we can’t attend the priceless annual ceremonies typically held in Manteo, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and beyond that usually feature speakers and U. S. Flag salutes, etc. or the ceremonial flag posting events at the Manteo and Austin Cemeteries, we can still find a way to personally and privately hold our own, can’t we? At our house we have an American flag and a P.O.W. flag that lean off the railing of our front deck and I think that on Memorial Day I will go outside and speak the Pledge of Allegiance to our spirited red, white and blue and offer a Moment of Silence. Not a half effort but at least a full Moment of Silence, head bowed by the P.O.W. flag – a stark reminder of loss not only of precious life but of the thousands of empty arms, silent voices and vacant seats at the table and cold pillows that widows and widowers lay beside every day.

My heart aches as a Vietnam veteran widow of almost four years now. The loss of my best friend and husband of over 48 years is unable to be expressed adequately. I miss him every day. I kiss his picture that I see every time I open my cell phone. In my whispers, I tell him I love him often and I remember how much those last months, then weeks of his life brought me to my knees.

In my prayers, I thank God for my blessings. There have been so many in my life, namely my husband, our children, our grandchildren, our friends, our veteran community and I pray for comfort for the widows and widowers who have also lost their best friend, their husband, wife, father, mother, child, sibling and other family members to war. It is like a book I was considering buying recently in which the summary referenced death in the war and the death inside a soldier who has come home many reliving it over and over again.

Our veterans, be it from their service in the U. S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard, are such incredible human beings and I feel so happy that God put a veteran in my life to love me and for me to love back. I can’t thank Him enough. I appreciate that I have this opportunity through Gig Line to express love for my Billy, my “Sweetie Pie” and that many other equally devoted, loving wives don’t always write, but not because they don’t all hurt just like me, wishing that when bad things happen, the love of their life was still at their side telling us, “It’s okay baby . . . it’ll be alright!” And for widowers too, whether they are veteran themselves or they lost their sweet, precious wife who stayed at home when they were deployed, praying no knock of uniformed personnel would come to the door, for our men who were so devoted to their spouse, I think and pray for you, too.

This different Memorial Day, despite coronavirus, will not overshadow or diminish the deserved recognition of the incredible men and women who have died in order to keep our nation free, to keep it safe, to keep it faithful to our Constitution and to the values we, as Americans hold dear. Anything short of that would be a slap in the face of those who suffered and died for us all. If you have children or grandchildren, please set aside a time to ask them if they know what Memorial Day really means or ask them to draw a picture of what they think it stands for or ask them to write a poem about the brave, selfless men and women we look up to or to draw/color our “stars and stripes.” And folks, though the holiday is about those who have died, don’t look at the ground . . . raise your face to the skies and thank God for the blessing of their sacrifice, strength and influence. To be an American is to be proud, grateful, humble and secure. Our military has our backs and they are our backbone and many live today because of the sacrifice of others for which we will never forget.

We can look toward a time when we will get back to normal and even better, holding our U.S. Flag higher, waving it harder, singing louder even in off key voices (like mine) the songs that encompass what we’re all about. Until that time, we must maintain, keep vigilant, stay educated when it comes to national and domestic affairs, wear our gloves and masks and social distance as needed, but live to care more, pray more and love more than ever before.

To all of you who have lost a member of your family while they were deployed or after they returned home and became sick and died from Agent Orange or other health issues as a result of their service . . . God bless you. My Billy was a red, white and blue guy all the way, from top to bottom, inside and out and if he were here today, he’d remind us all that Memorial Day is not really a “happy” day but rather a somber day of deep reflection and heartfelt appreciation. He would also likely say “Thank you” for the prayers, steadfast love and support to all who have been on the edge of life and death far from home. He would tell his brothers and sisters he loved them and he would embrace every show of pride, support and respect to our U.S. Armed Forces – bar none. He would tell the widows and widowers, thank you for all they have been through and lost. Thank you, dear Lord, for my Billy and for all who served bravely, unselfishly and with integrity of which there is no compare.

Until next time, be proud, be safe and be happy. Love this country, love our traditions – they are what makes us who we are. And folks, if you read this Gig Line and spend special family time (or even by yourself) honoring our fallen this Memorial Day, please write to me and tell me about it at giglineheroes@aol.com or you can call me at 252-202-2058. You know the drill . . .I love you all. Stay tuned!

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