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Honoring the Fallen: Memorial Day Reflections (2024)

American Flag and Military ID Tags in Back Yard

Since completing my combat tours in Ramadi, Iraq, and the mountains of Afghanistan as a young infantryman, Memorial Day has taken on a profoundly deeper significance for me. Some we lost overseas, but I have personally lost many more to suicide over the years that followed. Now, as a chaplain supporting veterans through their grief, I truly appreciate the sanctity of this occasion. Memorial Day encapsulates raw emotions of anger, sorrow, and loss, resonating deeply within the veteran community. It is a time to honor the sacrifices of those who no longer walk among us and to extend love and support to the friends and families who live on.


Many people remain unaware that these memories can evoke unresolved grief from other experiences, including losses of safety, future plans, unrealized expectations, and other sacrifices tied to deployments and military service. Contrary to popular belief, time alone doesn't heal all wounds; proactive steps are needed to address them. It seems to me that the question is: How do we, as veterans, honor the fallen, deal with our grief, and empower the very country we fought to defend—to be healthy, happy, and able to do the same?


How do we, as veterans, honor the fallen, deal with our grief, and empower the very country we fought to defend—to be healthy, happy, and able to do the same?

The Ways We Remember


The ways we remember and honor the fallen are as diverse and personal as our grief, with no single correct approach. It is my privilege to share some recent feedback I have received:


  • Some suggest visiting veterans' cemeteries, allowing visitors to tell the stories of their lost loved ones while listening quietly and reverently.

  • Others recommend getting in shape and honoring the memory of the fallen through community group activities and commemorating specific occasions related to the deceased.

  • Some choose self-isolation, finding solace in solitude as they mourn. To be fully transparent, this is what I did for many years until I gained the tools I will share with you momentarily.

  • Others aspire to lead a humble life, cherishing memories of their loved ones in the quiet moments.

  • Some reflect on how their loved ones have bolstered their personal strength and seek ways to honor their memory with gratitude.

  • Meanwhile, some passionately remind others of the distinct significance between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.


I am grateful to those who shared their stories with me. I recognize that the memories of our loved ones are sacred, and I am humbled to write about them today.


As someone who supports others through grief, I emphasize that some coping methods are healthier than others. However, I suggest that the most important thing for us as a community right now, is to come together without judgment during this sensitive time, to love and support one another with the one thing each of us as human beings can relate to—the journey of recovering from grief.


How to Keep the Legacy Alive on Memorial Day


While there is no singular way to grieve, there is also no definitive manner to honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day. Regardless of your veteran status, one prevailing sentiment to remember is that we, the veterans and the living, do not wish this day to highlight us or our service. Instead, it should spotlight those who served and sacrificed completely. Their lives, service, and sacrifice deserve our deepest honor. Equally, we must recognize the enduring sacrifice their families continue to bear every day.


Here are some meaningful and healthy ways that both veterans and civilians might consider to honor the fallen on Memorial Day:


  1. Support Memorial Events and Ceremonies: Participating in or organizing memorial events and ceremonies is a powerful way to honor fallen heroes. Attend local Memorial Day services, lay wreaths, and participate in moments of silence to show respect and solidarity.

  2. Educate the Next Generation: Ensure that the stories and sacrifices of those who died are passed down to future generations. This can be done through school programs, community talks, and educational initiatives that highlight the importance of military service and the cost of freedom.

  3. Personal Remembrance Rituals: Create personal rituals to remember loved ones who served. This could include visiting their gravesite, lighting a candle in their memory, or simply taking a moment to reflect on their contributions and their impact on your life.

  4. Explore Adaptive Grief Tapping (AGT)™: Adaptive Grief Tapping (AGT)™ can be a profound way to navigate the waves of grief and honor the memory of those who have passed. AGT™ combines elements of emotional freedom techniques (EFT) and customized tapping sequences designed specifically to address the unique pain of losing a loved one. This method allows individuals to acknowledge their feelings while gently guiding them through the process of emotional recovery. By incorporating AGT™, veterans and civilians alike can create a compassionate space for their grief, making room for recovery and heartfelt remembrance. This practice honors the fallen by fostering emotional resilience and inner peace, ensuring that their legacy is carried forward with love and respect.


By being at our best, our veteran community can continue to embody strength and bravery while giving back to the community and our families, honoring the fallen in the most impactful and meaningful ways imaginable.


Conclusion


In honoring our fallen service members and their families, we ensure that their legacies inspire future generations. From community involvement to personal rituals and techniques like Adaptive Grief Tapping (AGT)™, we can channel our grief into meaningful remembrance. Know that you are not alone on this journey. An entire community stands ready to support you with compassion and understanding. Together, we honor the fallen and empower ourselves to continue this legacy of respect and remembrance.

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