Coffee, eggs and patriotism

BELLEVUE Diners at the Parkertown II Restaurant in Bellevue only have to look up from their plates o
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Diners at the Parkertown II Restaurant in Bellevue only have to look up from their plates of omelets and pancakes to be reminded there are brave American men and women overseas in hostile lands.

Sherry Whipkey personally saw to it that no one eating at the restaurant could forget this fact.

In the past few years, the 52-year-old waitress from Clyde said she had noticed a discouraging decrease in the number of homes and cars with lace and magnetic yellow ribbons proudly displayed on them.

"It seems like everyone's forgot the soldiers. When my daughter went over and came back, she was excited that she saw ribbons and that we really cared about the soldiers. Now my son's going over and no one remember them," Whipkey said.

The mother of two National Guard members decided it was time someone changed that.

Whipkey got to work and enlisted the help of a friend to make yellow ribbons to attach to trees and mailboxes. Whipkey asked permission from Parkertown's owner, Gloria Burkhart, to decorate the restaurant with the colorful bows, which she is selling for several dollars a piece. Burkart didn't need any convincing -- several of her employees have loved ones in the military and she said she was eager to commemorate their service. She even agreed to allowing the proceeds of the bows to go to the unit of Whipkey's son as a way to lift the soldier's spirits.

Whipkey's 33-year-old son, Staff Sgt. Travis Vollmar, left for Fort Hood, Texas, last month and heads to Iraq soon.

Her greatest fear is that in 10 months or so, when he returns, he won't get the welcome he deserves.

When her daughter, 25-year-old Sgt. Terine Whipkey, returned from Iraq on March 4, 2005, the support she and other military members received was inspiring, Whipkey said.

Terine recalls how when she set foot on U.S., yellow ribbons and U.S. flags were displayed prominently. Since then, such decorations have all but vanished.

Both Terine and her mother said increasing ambivalence toward this war only partly explains the lack of visible support. They both believe that the war's duration has a big part in the waning show of support.

"I think it was new and fresh, a new war, and people thought of it a lot more," Whipkey said. "My girlfriends tell me, 'Sherry, we don't have people in the service so we tend to forget that there are kids still over there fighting for us.'"

Displaying yellow ribbons isn't expressing an opinion of the validity of the war, Terine said. It's merely an expression of support for the soldiers, worth doing no matter where a person's political views fall.

Debi Stewart is the only resident on her block who has a ribbon displayed on her property. The Parkertown cashier wants to return to a time when the flags and ribbons were "everywhere."

"It fades from the news and it fades from your mind," Stewart said. "Now unless you know somebody over there, it is not at the top of your priority list and it should be."

Stewart may get her wish considering that the bows are selling like hot cakes.