Saturday Morning Message: Displaying Memorabilia

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

This week’s question was inspired by Merry, surviving mother of Wesley. She sent a picture of what she had done to produce Wes’s Honor Wall. The thought crossed my mind that it might be good to find out what others have done with those special mementoes, so last week’s question asked survivors what they chose to do with these beloved items. The answers were varied and interesting. Thank you to all who responded.

Ashlynne - Family Portraits

What I am suggesting the next Saturday message is for you to send me one short story about your loved one that we can share as we remember the light and not the darkness. It could be a funny story or one that is more thoughtful. Don’t worry if you can’t do this without tears as no one will see you. For some this will be easy and for others more difficult, but in this way you can talk about her or him and write the name and we can all appreciate the person you knew so well and get to know him or her. If you would like to contact me directly with a reply, email me at  


From Debra, surviving mother of Nathan: I display Nathan's flag on our piano which is somewhat of a photo gallery. I have chosen happy and fun pictures of him as well as other family photos. I also have a charcoal sketch given to me, done by one of his friends.

From Kathy, surviving mother of Jon: I had a room that was a long room at the back of our home that kind of became a "catch all”. I planned to clear it out and paint it when I retired in 3/26/2011.  Then came 8/6/2011 and we received word that our son Jon was KIA. The SEALs, Texas friends, families and friends came and said they were here to take care of us. They trimmed shrubs, put food away and then started clearing out the room. They painted, put up blinds, took memorabilia and honorariums that arrived and got them framed. We later received our son's furniture and put his living room sets there. It is a great room to remember and thank God for giving us our son for 35 wonderful years.

From Rose, surviving spouse of Troy: I put all my husband’s pictures, awards, and all the other things in my room in the chest, so if the children want them someday, it's there for them to have. The pictures are on top of the chest, because there's no hole to hang them in the wall. His flag is beside the chest. All his military uniforms are still hanging in the closet.  My sister- in- law has great ideas on what to do with my husband’s uniforms. I am planning to put his uniform in a quilt or have a purse/bag made and pillow cases too.

From Mary-Ann, surviving mother of Blake: As for this week’s question - I have Blake's flag in our den where I have made a family wall of pictures of our three children. That wall has a ledge about 4' up from the floor that runs the length of the wall. Since Blake is our middle child his frame full of pictures is in the middle of the wall with his Chief Petty Officer picture sitting on the ledge to the left and his flag box to the right of it. The majority of the other items we have of his are safely stored in a cedar chest we got for that purpose. The ribbons, medals and other small items are stored in a beautiful small chest one of his friends made and sent to us. Other items are throughout the house as they were when he was alive. It seems to bring us comfort to have them that way.

From Frank, surviving father of Joseph: I was given his flag at the National Cemetery. The service members on his boat, the USS Tennessee, gave me a shadow box of his medals, coins, a flag, rate, etc. I hang it in my office at home. I say, “Hello,” to it and Joe every time I see it. I gather strength in my faith, but, also in a small box, that carries all the material things that belonged to my Joe, my baby, my son, my sailor, and my friend. I miss him so. Yet, he is free now and safe. No one can harm him, nothing can hurt him. As we survivors grieve, we must try to remember our loved one's want us to be happy. I know it is tough, I struggle every day. I hope all of you do not struggle in a sense of desperation. I hope you find comfort where ever, and whenever you can.

From Diane, surviving mother of Caleb: We had a bar in our family room that had become a catch all. I decided we should take the bar out and make it Caleb's corner. Caleb and his woods teacher had a great relationship, so the woods teacher has been working on the corner...putting in a hardwood floor and taking out the bar. The shellacked wood counter was great, so he made a bench out of it - to place awards Caleb received, plants, and/or a place to sit. We will mount the shadow box with Caleb's blues, and other pictures, etc. in that corner when it is finished. I look forward to having a special place to honor a life well-lived - my warrior son - a place apart from normal everyday traffic, a private, special place.


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Visit the TAPS Online Community Calendar for this week's schedule of text and video chats and other offerings. We have a virtual gathering most days of the week. Whether you want to share your story or just read how other survivors are sharing and coping, this online grief support community is a way for you to develop and strengthen your connections with TAPS.

Other Items and Events of Interest

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This Summer, Youth Programs is hosting TAPS Good Grief and Family Camp at Home through August 28. Each week, there are activities and challenges you can complete individually and as a family. Missed a week? No problem - all activities and challenges from previous weeks are available online. Join us for opportunities for you and the kids to connect to mentors and other families through Zoom sessions.

Make plans to join us for our next Virtual Military Survivor Seminar, August 21 and 22. We have new, dynamic sessions available throughout the weekend at no cost, with all of the resources, care and love we can offer, coming to you in the comfort of your home. We'll also have Share Groups, our facilitated support groups, where you can meet other survivors with similar loss experience. We look forward to seeing you online soon!

Save the date! Please join us for the Military Survivor New to Grief Seminar, once per week from September 3 to 24. Together we will work toward two primary goals. First, we will grow deeper understandings as we deconstruct myths about grief, explore the cognitive and physical impacts of grief, and seek to establish a helpful language around our own experiences. Second, we will establish community among our peers so that we have others who have a strong desire to accompany us as we continue navigating the ups and downs of our loss and grief.

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Did you lose your loved on due to an illness loss

If your military loved one suffered with a wound, illness, or injury, please consider taking our new Illness Loss Survivor Survey before August 18th, 2020, so TAPS can honor your loved one through our advocacy efforts. If you took the survey last year, we ask that you retake it as we've made important updates. Your response could help shape policy and legislation, and direct future TAPS programs and services. To learn more, email

Have you lost your job, or have reduced work hours? Or are otherwise affected by COVID-19? If you are grieving the death of a loved one, and their life included military service, we'd like to hear from you. Your feedback will be used to improve TAPS programs and to communicate survivor needs to donors and stakeholders. Tell us more.

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AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit, log in, and select TAPS as your charity of choice. Amazon will give 0.5% of your eligible purchases to TAPS.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the Saturday Morning Message is to foster peer-based connection for support and encouragement.  It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the Saturday Morning Message is edited for spacing considerations, grammatical corrections and may be used in other TAPS publications.  

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If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 800-959-8277.