The below article was originally posted on http://www.americanwidowproject.com/. The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter… Military Widow to Military Widow. Thank you to Hello Grief for sharing.
6 boxes are all that is left of my husband. One filled with his socks, another with his uniforms, and another with every card or photo he had received. Three more contain his books, sheets, and other military effects.
I remember when the boxes arrived, I sat there so anxious to see what was left of my baby. Opening each one I had no clue what I would see. Cautiously, I lifted the lid of the hard black containers.
There are the cards I wrote him, there are the movies he’d watch every night, there are the photos of me he had hanging next to his bed………there is the only thing left of my husband’s existence while in Iraq.
I remember opening up his laptop to find an snapshot of me I never knew he liked. There was the bear that had the personal message I had recorded telling him I can’t wait to see him come home and be together again. There were all the things I had sent, all the memories on film we had captured, all the literature he adored reading, now with no reader.
I forgot all that he had accumulated over his 8 months over there. Due to that fact, many items were so heartwarming but always with an aftertaste of anger.
I remember going through his clothes and immediately putting them to my nose……detergent. ‘I’ll try another shirt or maybe his socks!’ …….detergent. The fact that they had washed all of his clothing made me so infuriated! Let me have one last breath of his smell. The smell I was unable to be without for 8 months…..and now forever.
Some of Michael’s things I pulled out right away, others are still sitting in those looming boxes sitting in my garage. Every now in then I’ll open them to get a small inhale from his pillow that they DIDN’T wash, or go for a search for some hidden letter he may have written in the case he would die.
I never found the letter, I never got my husband to come home, and all I am left with are our memories, a few items of meaning and………6 black boxes.
Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is a Federal holiday to commemorate U.S. soldiers who have died while in the military service. The holiday was first enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the Civil War. After World War I, it was extended to honor all American who have died in all wars.
General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. May 30th was chosen as the official date because it was not the anniversary of a battle.
Memorial Day grew across the nation. There were events in 183 cemeteries in 27 states in 1868. By 1890, all northern states recognized the holiday. Memorial Day was officially declared by Federal law in 1967. Under the Uniform Holidays Bill enacted in 1971, the date changed from May 30th to the last Monday in May to create a unified holiday weekend.
The original tradition of Memorial Day is still observed, although Americans have added traditions over the years. Many visit cemeteries to attend memorial services and place flowers on graves. American flags are flown at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Americans have adapted the observance of the long holiday weekend to have picnics, family gatherings, shopping, and barbeques. The Indianapolis 500 has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911. The legendary auto race runs on Sunday preceding Memorial Day.
To help remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in December 2000. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 pm local time. The resolution asks that at 3 pm local time all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’.”
Featured Guest Speakers and Participants:
• Purple Heart
• Charlotte County Veterans Council
• North Port Boy Scout Troop 157
• Rotunda West Honor Guard
• Marcella Brown, Vocalist
• Ladies Auxiliary Post 10476
• Lemon Bay High School NJROTC
• The Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force,
Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and POW will be represented