VOICE OF THE VETERAN An OBX Veterans Week to remember - Outer Banks Sentinel: Opinion

VOICE OF THE VETERAN An OBX Veterans Week to remember

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Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:00 am

Veterans Week is my favorite time on the OBX. We’re often given the opportunity to share about our mission to new organizations, and our community really shows its patriotism. That makes for my perfect week!

The first weekend this month, the Dare County Arts Council kicked off Veterans Week with the Veterans Writing Project. This was our fifth year since Barbara St Amand and Chris Sawin began the program. This program is meant to teach Vets how to clearly and concisely tell their stories. We’ve been recognized at the state level for this program. When the Military and Veteran Healing Arts Grant was approved and funded, we were called by the N.C. Arts Council and asked if we’d like to expand this program. How cool!

Hatteras Secondary School had their Veterans Day Ceremony on Wednesday. It’s always one of my favorite ceremonies. Their entire school, K-12, participates. The kindergarteners sing a song they’ve adapted for Vets Day, then they deliver cards to each of the Vets. Their band is extremely talented. They play the different branch songs, and even do Taps after they do the final Roll Call of all the Vets that have passed since the last ceremony. Deputy Gary Kierney and Principal Beth Haneman-Rooks really outdo themselves each year.

I was honored to be able to go speak at the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Virginia Dare Chapter, on Thursday. They were a very energetic group with a real curiosity as to what we are doing and how they can help.

On Friday night the Arts Council and the Outer Banks Sporting Events joined together to have a concert benefitting the VFW. Senator Cook and Commissioner Wally Overman came out to help kick it off and the band was phenomenal! It went a bit late for my bedtime, but I got to talk with DCAC Artist and Volunteer Sue Freeman. Sue is also an Army Vet and she does beautiful wood artwork! Stop by the DCAC to check it out.

Saturday, Veterans Day, was packed full of ceremonies and businesses showing their support of our Veterans.

Manteo, though freezing, had a wonderful turnout from the community and Roanoke Island Cub Scouts to hear Commander Carl Reiber speak. The Cub Scouts gave us each a Veterans Day present, but my favorite part was getting to talk to each of them and see them play the national anthem on their recorders.

I wasn’t able to attend the Southern Shores ceremony, as it was at the same time as the Nags Head Ceremony. I heard that the Knights of Columbus did a wonderful job, as always. Their speaker, a Southern Shores policeman and Air Force Vet, Senior Patrol Officer George Farrow, did a great job.

In Nags Head, we got to listen to Army Military Police Vet Michael Lewis. Michael is now the Executive Director of Hotline. His speech had us laughing and remembering the sacrifices big and small. Leslie Erickson and the students of Club Violin were also out to play a patriotic medley before the ceremony began. Hearing them is always a joy for me.

In Kill Devil Hills we visited with the Blue Star Moms Memorial for Dare County resident and Gold Star Mom, Sheila Williamson, for her son, SSG Marshall Hugh Caddy. He was Killed in Action in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The KDH Police, Firefighters (including their Fire Marshall and Chief), and community joined us for their ceremony. Colington’s Firefighters (and Chief), who allows us to use their station to host the VFWs monthly meeting, were also out to show their support.

All in all, this was a beautiful weekend. I absolutely love how many children participated in this weekend’s ceremonies. I believe President Ronald Reagan said it best, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

If we aren’t teaching our children the importance and honor of serving in our nation’s Armed Forces, who will carry the torch in the coming generations? Whether they serve or not, they should understand and appreciate the fact that we live in a country worth fighting for.

Less than half of one percent of our population has served in the War on Terror. We, as a nation, cannot allow this number to dwindle further.

“I am a Guardian of Freedom and the American way of Life.”– U.S. Army Soldiers Creed.

Kelli Harmon is a U.S. Army Veteran of Afghanistan and a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal. She currently lives in Manns Harbor and is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones in Manteo.

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