Turnouts at the many Veterans Day events along the Grand Strand illustrate how completely public attitudes have changed toward military veterans in a couple of generations. Gratitude for veterans’ service is widely expressed nowadays, as well it should be.
Such was not the case, unfortunately, for many returning from service in Vietnam.
Illustrative of the positive change was the dedication of a handsome new black granite memorial at Veterans of Foreign War Post 10420 in Murrells Inlet. Senior vice commander Darryl Hammon was surprised that more than 300 people attended the ceremony, many from rather distant places in the state.
“It was the biggest crowd I’ve seen here,’’ says the former soldier who, with another Post 10420 member, launched the project. Jack Novak showed Hammond a list in The Sun News of 50 S.C. soldiers who died in Afghanistan at that time. “Fifty ... just from South Carolina. I said, `We need to build them a memorial.’ ’’
The three-section memorial dedicated Monday lists 108 names, but others will be added as additional names are learned. “Finding the names was the most difficult part,’’ Hammond says. The $20,000 cost has not yet been completely covered and landscaping remains. Post 10420 is offering inscribed bricks, which will be placed around the memorial. Four-inch by eight-inch bricks are $50 and eight-by-eight bricks are $100. Hammond hopes to raise another $5,000.
“There were a lot of tears’’ Monday as the memorial was dedicated. After the ceremony, a couple came back to the post. “The lady looked at me and said she wanted to talk to someone about her husband joining the VFW.’’ They had gone home to get his discharge papers. Now 90, he was in the Normandy invasion and the European action that followed.
Congratulations, Mrs. S.C. America
Professional golfer Meredith Kirk of Murrells Inlet describes herself as a “tomboy at heart’’ and had to learn “that little model walk’’ to compete in pageants. Earlier this year she won the Mrs. Myrtle Beach crown and now she’s the new Mrs. South Carolina America for 2014.
After meeting the “talented and amazing’’ contestants in the competition in the 37th state pageant, Kirk mentally prepared herself not to win. “I was totally shocked when I won. I had no clue I was going to win it,’’ she told Steve Palisin of The Sun News.
As Mrs. South Carolina America, the wife of Landon Kirk and mother of three boys will compete for the Mrs. America title next August. Kirk is a member of the Ladies Professional Golfers Association. She won praise from Mrs. America contest head Fred Galle for her Junior Golf Exchange program, in which young golfers from all backgrounds can receive golf equipment at no cost from parents who donate clubs, bags and so forth as their children outgrow them.
It’s surely fitting that a professional golfer represent Myrtle Beach and South Carolina.