ROCK HILL, S.C. — With the support of the state General Assembly, Harvey Mayhill is hoping that the day after Thanksgiving will mean more than deep discounts for holiday shoppers.
Mayhill, 71, an Air Force veteran, is headed to Columbia on Thursday to promote his idea of a day for recognizing military spouses.
“It’s not a holiday, just one day set aside to say, ‘Yes, we remember you, and thank you for your service,’” said Mayhill. “They are the unseen veterans.”
Two years ago, the Rock Hill resident began pitching the idea of a day dedicated to honoring those who serve alongside soldiers on the homefront with the help of U.S. House Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land.
Mulvaney, whose congressional district includes York, Chester and Lancaster counties, presented a draft each year, but the bill never gained enough support to make it onto the U.S. House floor.
So this past fall, Mayhill took a more local approach when he met with state Rep. Raye Felder, R-Fort Mill, to consider turning the idea into state law.
“I really appreciate the sacrifice that the families make,” said Felder, who worked as an insurance agent for several decades in Fort Mill. “I saw the family member that was left behind and all of a sudden struggling to be mom and dad.”
Felder first met Mayhill during a local wreath-laying event honoring veterans in Fort Mill two years ago.
The bill, H. 4527, would set aside the day after Thanksgiving annually to recognize the spouses and family of veterans. Though, Mayhill noted that any day after Thanksgiving would be fine for him. The idea is simply to take advantage of a current holiday where families are already gathered and giving thanks.
While Mayhill wasn’t sent overseas to Vietnam when he served from 1961 to 1965, he and his wife, a former nurse, have had several friends in the military that were deployed.
“Some of these spouses and families are so lonesome and struggling, working one or more part-time jobs,” said Mayhill. “While they were gone, spouses came to our home and they were our family.”
On Thursday morning, the bill will be presented to the Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs, giving Mayhill a rare opportunity to speak with legislators about the bill, said Felder. Mayhill said he plans to be “speaking from the heart.”
“It’s my subconscious way of saying, ‘God, thanks for taking care of me. I want to help those who did have to go in my place,’” he said.