How did you observe Memorial Day? It was a peaceful day in our military household in northern Virginia. My mom is here visiting us. Two of our three children are home for the summer. We grilled in the backyard, and when we sat down to eat, my husband said grace and added a prayer of thanks for those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.
Just the day before, I met up at the Lincoln Memorial with a group from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, including TAPS founder Bonnie Carroll. The group of fifty or so included spouses, parents, siblings and children of service members who have died in the line of duty. The tone was far from somber as these proud family members enjoyed the company of others who understand their stories, because they live them. Some shared their stories with me.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the legacy my father gave to me, the photos and other mementos of his service in Vietnam. The column resonated with many readers, some of whom wrote to honor their own military fathers. Here are their words:
This could have almost been my story. I, too, am a military spouse. My husband has proudly served the Army for 21 years now.
On May 1st, I lit a candle in remembrance of my father who left this world four years ago. When he fell ill, I had the privilege [of] tending to him. Being the proud man that he was, I know it was the hardest thing he had probably done, but it was the least I could [do] for him.
Look out, military world. Hollywood has our number. It’s the latest in lapel-wear for celebs and news anchors. Tom Hanks has one, as do Claire Danes, Brian Williams and Steven Tyler. They and many others are sporting a golden “6” pin, representing “Got Your 6,” a newly launched entertainment industry push to support the U.S. military.
The campaign was officially launched this month, but seeds of the movement were planted last year by the national volunteer organization ServiceNation, aided by the Clinton Global Initiative and the White House.
Watching the White House correspondents’ dinner on television was disheartening. It wasn’t the political jokes or even that the Kardashians were invited and I wasn’t. It was the guests’ bad manners. Oh, I’m sure they put their napkins in their laps and used the correct fork for dessert. But their flag etiquette was sadly lacking.
Judging from the chattering and laughter, most guests at the Washington, D.C., media gala did not notice when the military color guard passed through the large room. Silence finally arrived after the colors were posted, during the opening bars of the National Anthem.
The Pentagon conference reached a consensus: We believe Michelle Obama and Jill Biden really do care about the needs and issues of military families.
No doubt the first and second ladies would breathe a sigh of relief. But they weren’t there. And we weren’t exactly in the Pentagon. We were in a mall across the street at Starbucks. Oh, and no one around the table was in uniform because each one, like me, was a military spouse.