Saturday Morning Message: Displaying Our Folded Flags
Author: Carol Lane
This week there were so many varied responses that I am going to keep my comments short. Misti, mother of Ashton, sent this beautiful picture that she titled “Fallen Sailor American Flag” as her response to the question. I thought it would make a wonderful opening picture.
Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In order to have your reply included in the week’s Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
Zaneta, director of professional education and community based care for TAPS, sent this week’s questions: What item have you received that you found useful or comforting following the death of your loved one? We look forward to your responses.
Song for the Week
Debra, wife of Thomas, sent the song for this week and responded to the week’s question. “I originally had to fight with the funeral home in order to obtain the flag that my husband fought for. Since Tom had been cremated, the funeral home did not give me his flag, telling me that flags were only for caskets. After a month of my fighting them for it, they finally gave it to me. I told the director of the funeral home that my husband gave 20 years of his life defending our country. He had been in Vietnam twice and recalled to duty for Desert Storm after he had been retired. I now have the flag in a cherry wood display case, which I keep on my dresser along with his multiple medals, which are in a shadow box. Eventually, it will be given to his daughter to display in her home.
The song “Call a Marine” sung by Toby Keith always was one of Tom’s favorites. He would tell everyone that he met about it. Whenever I hear that song I smile and think of Tom getting a twinkle in his eye and excited about it. He even had it set as the ringtone on his phone and convinced his sister who is a DJ to use it on the air a number of times.
Answers from Survivors
From Lonnie, wife of Larry: I took the flag I received and gave it to my husband’s brother-in-law who is a very active member of the Bellingham chapter of the American Legion. In May, they display all the flags of fallen soldiers during Memorial Day weekend. I plan to be there and see my husband’s flag displayed.
From Debra, mother of Jeremiah: I lost my son Oct. 4, 2017, in Niger. He was one of the four soldiers killed that horrifying day. We have his big picture, his flag, medals, ribbons and awards in our family room. His wife has all of his awards, but we have the ones the Army gave us. I have him in the family room because he is still with us every day in our hearts and thoughts. I miss him so much.
From Laurita, mother of James: I got a case to put the flag in and also had a place to put my son's ribbons and the medal he had earned. I also have a picture frame with his picture. I have the display on a cabinet in my dining room. I also have a bear that a friend made out of his uniform sitting next to the flag.
From Leslie, mother of Eugene: After I received my son’s flag and calmed down enough after the funeral to think, I bought a wooden box in the shape of a wide pentagon. The top third is for the flag. I added his personal cards such as license, passport and social security cards. The lower part is a rectangle divided into three boxes, the middle has his photo etched in copper and pertinent information under the photo. The two-sided boxes house his medals and some of his military coins.
From Elsie, mother of Daniel: Daniel was killed six weeks before he was to be married. I had the flag from his funeral presented to his fiancee. When he came home from Iraq, he gave me a flag that had been flown over his battalion, along with the certificate of the day that it was flown, Sept. 11, 2006. He said he went through a lot to have it flown on 9/11. I told him then that was the only flag I ever wanted to receive. That is the flag framed over his shadow box.
From Janae, mother of Brandon: I’ve always found some comfort in the flag and Brandon’s picture from his funeral. They were always displayed together in my living room and when I moved to Utah those items sat on the passenger seat on the way to my new home and they were the first things I unloaded. When I got my job with my next team, I had five days to pack and drive south halfway across the country. I packed what important things that would fit in my Camaro with Brandon’s flag and picture in the passenger seat. I’ve moved a lot over the last seven years and his flag, picture, and a few other things are what make my new place home.
Michele, mother of Stephen: Our flag is in the flag case that was given to us by the Army, along with a picture of him from the last week we spent together.
From Alida, mother of Nathan: We found a trunk that has a shadow box in it. When you open the trunk, the shadow box is on the top. I have Nate's flag, his medals and ribbons, and his spurs. Nate was a Cavalry Scout and had earned his spurs. This way I can keep everything together including important papers. I have his uniform and boots, his beret, a few things he collected in Iraq and his Sobee cap collection. We used to pack a couple of Sobee drinks in the boxes we sent him. Makes me smile when I think of the times we marked "nothing breakable" on the paper at the post office. Then I would pray the glass bottles didn't break before he received it. They never did.
From Anne, mother of Michael and wife of John: I have my two flags in a case and on display in my home in honor of my husband, John, who was a combat Purple Heart veteran of the Korean War, and one for my son, Michael, who was a Marine and a test pilot for the Osprey helicopter. He was killed along with three brave warriors while on a night training mission in North Carolina. I honor them every day and will always miss them.
From Maina, mother of Robert: The flag that was presented to me is kept in my meditation room. It is displayed on an antique Crosley Floor Record/Radio console, which was my grandfather’s. Above that, I have on the wall a Reiki healing tapestry. I also have a beautiful Tiffany lamp keepsake urn. I turn it on every morning at 4:30 with a "Good morning, Robby. I love you." It is turned off when I retire for the night with a "Good night, Robby. I love and miss you."
From Caryn, mother of Nathan: I did receive a flag for my son, Nathan. One of Nate's close friends made me a wooden case with a glass cover to store it in. Also in the case are the bullets that were shot in the salute during his service. It stays proudly displayed in my living room with other memorials for him.
From Rita, mother of James: My daughter-in-law shared one of the flags that draped my son's coffin during the transport from the funeral home to the memorial service venue and back to the funeral home. I display the flag in a flag case that has his name and rank on it. I place the flag case in front of a shadow box that my daughter-in-law made for me; the shadow box contains my son's picture along with some of his military patches and military cap. When I'm missing him or need to talk to him, I walk to the display case and shadow box and share my sadness and tell him of my continuing love for him. It gives me some comfort to be able to look at his face and the flag that meant so very much to him.
From Karl, father of Tre: I received the flag that was draped over my son's casket. After it was removed and folded ceremoniously, it was placed in a beautiful triangular-shaped box with the seal of the Air Force on it. It doesn't have the window so commonly seen. When the box is opened it displays my son's name bar as well as his ribbons. It sits atop a cabinet in my bedroom, and I only show it to those I believe are actually interested in seeing it. I was afraid I might end up making a shrine to my son so I readily avoided that. It is so much more personal to me this way. I'm glad the Air Force did it this way.