Saturday Morning Message: What Happens at the TAPS National Seminar

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

This week, our discussion focused on the TAPS National Seminar. Our question asked those who have attended the event to share their experience with survivors who have not attended. 

2013 National Parade

TAPS National starts before anyone arrives when a group of volunteers lovingly put together materials that attendees will need for the weekend. To read the importance of this act of love in one volunteer’s words, please read Supporter Spotlight: Mardee McDaniel.

Then survivors enter the hotel area with a warm greeting from TAPS staff or volunteers and the event begins. There are workshops with speakers who are experts in their field, support groups in many different categories led by TAPS staff, time to relax with your new friends, exciting events from which to choose around our Nation’s capital, and each year something different is added. You can take part in all or sit some out. What you do is totally up to you and your comfort level. 

Thank you to those survivors who added their thoughts this week. In addition to the information in this message, you might want to join and look at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Facebook Page . There you will find many of the interesting things that TAPS can bring you as well as a link to this message and additional survivor comments.

Songwriters compose songs that are meant to arouse feelings in the listener. As we go through this journey of grief, there may be songs that give you hope, remind you of your loved one, bring tears, or stir other emotions. For next week’s question, please share one or more songs that help you in some way and tell us a bit about why. I look forward to your responses.

If you would like to send a response to the question of the week or have a subject that you might want to hear responses from other survivors, you can email me anytime at I would love to hear from you anytime about anything. It doesn’t have to be a reply to the Saturday message. Sometimes just writing to someone is helpful.



From Laura, surviving spouse of Austin: The best part of the National Seminar was sitting in on my first group, and hearing SO MANY wives who dealt with the same thing my husband and I did. It was like one of those “Ahhhhh” moments with the choir of angels singing. I learned I wasn’t alone. What I was feeling was in fact normal, and that from this experience I could and would learn so many things about myself. I rediscovered the love that my husband and I had and that being guilty will only impede me from moving forward in my grieving.

From Ashley, surviving sibling of Michael: I attended my first TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar in 2012. I remember feeling a little anxious before attending. I saw pictures from the previous seminars and heard about the many people who came. Everyone I spoke with prior to attending told me how amazing and life-changing it would be for me.

Memorial Day, as we all know, has a different meaning for us. For years after my brother died, it was a difficult day, almost as hard as the anniversary of his death each year. The more I thought about the TAPS National Seminar and the time of the year it is held, I could not think of a more comforting, loving, and accepting place to spend this time of the year than the seminar. I would be surrounded by others who could relate to my feelings. I could shed tears, share precious memories, and laugh about things my brother did when we were kids and as adults! In May of 2012, I mustered up the courage to attend. I stepped out of my box and journeyed from Missouri to Washington D.C. How thankful I am I made the choice to attend! 

Everyone was right. It was truly life-changing for me! It was incredibly humbling to look around and know I was not alone. Everyone at the seminar was there to honor their loved one. Together, we remembered the love we have for our heroes, celebrated their lives, and realized we shared the journey with one another. Meeting other survivors and sharing about our loved ones was by far my favorite part of the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar. I came away knowing wholeheartedly I was not alone. Each year I know without a doubt I will be at the TAPS National Seminar. Many fellow survivors refer to it as the TAPS Family Reunion. How true it is! I can’t wait to see my precious TAPS family in a few short months!

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).