Saturday Morning Message: Memorial Day Activities

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

This past week, I attended the 23rd Annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp in the D.C. area. TAPS Seminars are a time of reflection and connection as we talk with other survivors who walk this journey with us. It is great to meet others in person who have been a part of the Online Community throughout the year.

TAPS has given its website a facelift. I thought it might be helpful to tell you how to access the Online Community through the new website:

  1. On the TAPS website, hold your cursor over the word Programs at the top of the page
  2. A drop-down menu will appear
  3. Choose Online Community
  4. You will then need to register to join the Online Community or update your password if you already have an account.

We look forward to getting in touch with all of you.

Questions are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am looking for more questions. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, you can email me at online@taps.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In addition to replies that are placed in the message, I also look for thoughts you have. You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday afternoon. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have.

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

Since so many who attended memorial services traveled home earlier this week, I thought it would be a good idea to give them a chance to rest a bit before they answered the question, so the question this week is: What was meaningful and helpful to you at the event you attended for Memorial Day?

Song for the Week

Kellie, spouse of Mark and TAPS Manager, Peer Mentor Program and Online Care, shared the song “Speak Life” by TobyMac at a special luncheon for new peer mentors at the national seminar, and I thought it would be the perfect song for this week.

Answers from Survivors

From Jean, mother of Patrick: Since I became a Gold Star mother and joined the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. my goal has been to educate the public about the real meaning of Memorial Day. Many people confuse it with Veterans Day, a day in November set aside to honor those who have served in all branches of our armed forces.

Gold Star families know the true meaning of Memorial Day — a day to honor those who sacrificed their lives while serving our nation. They gave their tomorrows so we may have ours. For Gold Star families, every day is Memorial Day. Not a day goes by that our loved ones are not remembered. How can we forget? Our nation should not forget. As Calvin Coolidge once said, "The nation which forgets its defenders, will itself be forgotten."

Each Memorial Day, I participate, plan and speak at memorial services and educate the public that freedom is not free!

This year, we did a Memorial Day challenge to ask others to set an empty place at their table or picnic and remember that the empty chair represents the person who will not be with their families this Memorial Day. On the plate, sprinkle some salt to represent the countless tears of families, friends and comrades in arms who mourn their deaths and miss them dearly. When these people set an empty place at their tables, they will understand that Memorial Day means that someone's child, spouse, parent, sibling or friend gave his or her future so you can have yours. So I challenge everyone reading this who paid the price with their loved one's absence to promote this challenge!

From Adra, mother of Kyle: What did I do over the Memorial Day holiday? It's been two and half years since we lost our Kyle, and this week marked a milestone that is more important than I can convey. After two years of birthday and Christmas presents met with silence, we just spent a wonderful week with Kyle's children. While he was alive, I promised him that I would never give up on helping him see his kids. After he passed away, I vowed I would honor his love of his kids, and our deep and abiding connection to them, by never giving up on seeing them and being a part of their lives. There's so much I can't explain here. It's the biggest Godwink, an answer to prayers, an intercession, a gift, a memorial.

We just returned home last night from seeing the children, and today we'll go to the cemetery again, to see an unanswering grave, but to share with our Kyle that we honor him, we honor his love of his children, we honor the sacrifices he made for family and country. We honor his life and his legacy with a renewed sense of having fulfilled that which was closest to his heart. We'll hang a new flag at Kyle's gravesite with tears streaming, but strength renewed.

Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew, wrote about her grandmother who was there to guide her. Since Bonnie Jo included a special Memorial Day treat, I thought this would be a good response to this week’s question. Bonnie Jo wrote, “My mentor was my grandmother whom we called ‘little skin.’ Why? It is a great question but my younger brother named her that, and we stuck to it!

Oh my, she was my everything for sure. She taught me how to make hospital corners on sheets, cook the southern style she was known for like nobody’s business, and to just enjoy life and always thank God for what we had. Also, she made sure I knew to use the ingredients that were in season at all times. Often, on Fridays, she would have a vegetable buffet and invite her sisters and other family members to make and share a vegetable delight! I credit her for my cooking to this day and just made her famous potato salad for Memorial Day weekend. It was so much fun to spend time with her and I did as often as possible.

I often wonder where I would be without this wonderful example of a loving person who always put herself out there to ‘Dare, Care and Share!’”

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: This Memorial Day weekend was busy. I picked out two flowering trees to be planted by the bench I built at Calverton National Cemetery. They will be planted in a week. My son loved flowering trees, so he should be happy.

My dad,  a World War II Navy vet, and I went to visit my surviving son. The park near him was a celebration of soldiers alive and not. It was a fun time for the kids yet sensitive and wonderful for those of us who know what Memorial Day is really about. It ended with glorious fireworks. Today the weather is not so great, so we are going to be watching a lot of war movies on TV.

We couldn’t stay for the whole weekend. The ceremonies honoring our fallen were amazing and uplifting. This made a big difference in my daughter’s life and the way she looked at my grief journey.

We came home Saturday and on Monday went to the veterans cemetery where Benjamin is buried for a service there. Since my son has been gone, I’ve gotten to know the people at the cemetery, and now they are family. The service was great. I do all that I do to honor Benjamin’s service and memory.


UPCOMING VIDEO AND TEXT CHATS
 

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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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Breath of Fresh Air With TAPS Outdoors - Season 2

The Breath of Fresh Air series, presented by TAPS Outdoors, is for everyone and requires no previous outdoor experience! With bi-weekly videos and Campfire Chats, we'll help you find the right tips, tools and tricks to navigate the wilds of our natural world and the wilds of your grief.

In Season 2: Sowing Seeds, we will utilize the skills we developed over winter to plant seeds of hope for the flourishing summer ahead. Spring is the season of new beginnings, and we look forward to preparing the ground, planting seeds and growing with you in the journey to blooms. The official launch date is Wednesday, March 3.


Free Webinars Presented by the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing®

Gain valuable information and coping strategies through the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing. In February, you have two opportunities to participate in free online sessions. 


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


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Tips And Resources To Help You Navigate All Stages Of An Emergency

Our hearts are with our TAPS Families impacted by recent winter weather. You are not alone. You've got this! And we've got you! We are always available to provide compassionate care to our military survivors in any circumstance. We also want to lessen the added stress you may be experiencing due to such emergencies. If you are in need of support, due to a natural disaster, contact our Casework Team at 202-588-TAPS (8277) or via email at casework@taps.org for information on available aid and supportive resources as well as read our TAPS Natural Disaster Response article.


We're All In This Together

COVID-19 Support and Resources

At TAPS, we’re no stranger to challenging times, and we’re all doing our part to support one another and get through these difficult times together. As always, TAPS is here 24/7, and our team is working hard to provide resources, services and support to surviving military families as they navigate the challenges of COVID-19. For more information or questions, visit our COVID-19 Response and Resources page or please email us at info@taps.org.


Choose TAPS as Your AmazonSmile Charity of Choice

AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit smile.amazon.com, 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.  

To subscribe or contribute to the Saturday Morning Message email online@taps.org.

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 202-588-8277.