Yesterday I was making my pilgrimage to visit my dad buried in section 64 of Arlington National Cemetery. As I dodged the throngs of tourists and bikers paying their respects I was having a hard time keeping it together. Memorial Day is not a holiday for me and many other military family members. It is more like a holy day.
It’s personal. It begins with my dad. After he came home twice from Vietnam we thought he dodged the mortars and bullets. Instead he succumbed to a weapon that stayed within and cruelly destroyed his marvelous brain. Agent Orange was a mighty force that crippled the enemy and so many of our soldiers as well.
Usually I cut through section 60 to pay my respects. But this time I could not handle it. My nephew had just graduated from the Naval Academy and as I watched row after row of graduates claim their diplomas my mind played back to so many faces, so many mommas, since my first son graduated ten years ago. Now numerous Naval Academy graduates are buried there amidst the rows upon rows in Section 60. So many mother’s tears…
I sat and chatted with my dad as I am want to do. My mom will be interred with him sometime this fall and my visit there was a way to prepare for that next emotional event. I updated him as to the whereabouts of all the kids-I figure he already knows since he is watching over them anyway. Then I pulled myself together and decided to make my next stop-the Women’s Military Memorial. My mom was a charter member and it was fitting that I should update her record and visit the memorial she helped create.
I was stopped in my tracks by this display out front.
I was already an emotional mess as I made my way inside to see this display of 6,821 yellow ribbons hanging from the ceiling, one for every fallen warrior lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. And as I blubbered my story to a wonderful volunteer I realized this was not just about remembering, it was about honoring and healing too.
How do we heal? It is a question we mommas are certainly looking for as we deal with the trauma of letting go and possibly losing our sons and daughters. When our children come home from service wounded in body and spirit and we cannot help them we grieve. And when we see our military sisters deal with the pain of unbearable loss it hurts our hearts. When we see warriors being honored and recognized is a huge step forward. I hope to blog more about using mindfulness as part of Holding Yourself Together in days to come as we strive to become stronger as our children become their best selves.
So what is Mindfully Honoring the Fallen?
Mindfulness is giving something your full attention. Attendees to the memorial are given a ribbon to wear with one name and you are asked to a offer a mindful moment of gratitude in the Hall of Honor to honor that warrior.
It was a beautiful experience to watch people solemnly accepting the yellow ribbons and prayerfully lift up that fallen warrior.
As a momma I have felt the pain of so much loss by so many and the fear of potential loss. I saw the power of mindfulness in action as a healing force. It was a blessing to see so many honoring sacrifice in such a tangible way.
Please go to the Mindful Memorial Day Facebook page to learn more about it and read the stories. If you are visiting Arlington National Cemetery this weekend do not miss the exhibit. You will be blessed.