Memorial Day Memories

Thursday, June 04, 2015

In the military community, we go to great lengths to honor our fallen. At cemeteries around the world, volunteers spend countless hours placing wreaths and flags at gravesites. This past Memorial Day across social media, many people shared not only pictures of those who died but also pictures of the families of the fallen. 

Scattered across my news feed were photos of children with folded flags and wives at the graves of their lost heroes that were meant to serve as a reminder that Memorial Day is not about barbecues. But with all the great things we do to honor the fallen, sometimes it seems we forget something very important: There is no better way to honor their memory than to honor their families.

And for most families, a simple gesture of remembrance, such as a phone call, makes a greater impact than you might think.

This Memorial Day weekend, I invited my friend Inge Colton, the Gold Star Wife of CW2 Lawrence “Shane” Colton, and Mary Aguirre, the Gold Star Mother of CPL Nathaniel Aguirre, for dinner in honor of their loved ones. I also wanted to do something that actively honored their soldiers that would also help my kids understand what Memorial Day is about. 

We decided to create a project that my kids could work on and that could be given as a gift to Mary and Inge. We collected pictures of things that represent Nathaniel and Shane: an Apache helicopter and FLA to represent their professions, a 1st Cavalry Patch and 4th Infantry Division patch to represent their units, a battlefield cross to represent their deaths, a Gold Star flag for their families, and an American flag for the country they died for. The kids colored the images and I cut them out. 

We printed out a picture of each hero with his name and dates of birth and death. We carefully glued each colored picture around Nathaniel’s and Shane’s pictures. During our work on these projects, I explained to the kids what each item meant and why it was important to the memory of each soldier. 

When Mary and Inge arrived, the kids each gave them the projects they had completed. In the eyes of my friends, I saw that this simple act was one of the best things we could have done for them on Memorial Day. 

I would urge anyone to consider doing something that lets our Gold Star Families know that their soldier and their family will never be forgotten. Our Gold Star Families deserve to be shown our gratitude and support, not just on Memorial Day, but all year long.