Upon the death of a veteran - the military is there. They play taps, fold the U.S. Flag and present it to the family, saying (a variation of), "On behalf of the President of The United States and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."
From this simple and eloquent statement, what stands out to me the most is that not just the military is grateful - they also include the government and its citizens. I believe this is a testament to the support provided to veterans from the combined efforts of all three.
The military, along with the government, at both federal and state levels, provides as much services and support as their resources allow. Wherever there is a gap, it is the grateful citizens of our nation that work together to find these gaps and fill them.
In the state of Massachusetts, we are fortunate enough to have excellent support in place within each town/city and a wonderful foundation run by citizens/retired military personnel to support our veterans and their families. From knowing there is a single person in town that a veteran can reach out to for advocacy, advice and support to a foundation that will help with unexpected financial hardships and even can fly home all of a fallen hero's family members when tragedy strikes; Massachusetts has the gap efficiently filled.
On today's episode of The Silva Lining, I was honored to have as guests, Heather Cheetham, Veteran's Service Officer for the Town of Somerset and SGM James Kelly (Ret.), President of the Military Friends Foundation.
For five years, Heather Cheetham has proudly served the veterans of Somerset, assisting them with financial support, end of life care options and burial benefits. In a world where the thought of simply seeking information garners anxiety about where to look, who to call and what to ask, knowing that each of Massachusetts' 351 towns/cities has a person to turn to is a huge comfort throughout the whole process. CLICK HERE for Heather's information online, call her at (508) 646-2827 or visit the office at Somerset Town Hall, 140 Wood St., (Second Floor, Room 28), Somerset, MA 02726. For residents of other MA towns/cities, visit www.mass.gov/veterans and click on "Find Local VSO".
SGM James Kelly is the President of the Military Friends Foundation, established in 2003 with the financial support of generous private donors who wished to recognize the unique service of citizen soldiers and airmen. They provide outstanding support to veterans and their families, organize events to raise awareness and highlight community support for veterans, run and support various programs, such as "Adopt A Unit", "Hero's Salute", "Operation Smiles" and "Tough Ruck" to name a few. Donating to support Military Friends is not only easy and tax-deductible, but it also comes with the assurance that 97% of funds raised will go DIRECTLY to those veterans and families in need.
I urge you to visit their website, www.militaryfriends.org, to explore all of their amazing work and hope you'll join me on September 12th in Dedham, MA for the Run/Walk For The Fallen. For more information, click on the flyer pictured here. (Click on the image to enlarge)
Also on today's show, I talked about some of the elements of military honors and some of the symbolisms behind them. For example, the U.S. Flag is folded into a triangle to symbolize the tri-cornered hat worn by the Patriots of the American Revolution.
Taps, the 24-note tune that most people can identify from hearing it played during military honors and flag folding ceremonies, was historically played as an infantry call for "Lights Out". Upon my own research, I found that the actual history of taps is pretty varied and highly interesting. CLICK HERE to read the best summary I found about the origin of Taps.
I came across some unofficial lyrics to Taps that I found perfectly fitting to the sentiment of the tune. My dear friend, Ryan Durkay beautifully sang the lyrics on today's show. (On the podcast you can hear it at 29:35). Here are the lyrics:
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky
All is well
God is nigh
The Silva Lining is thankful for our wonderful sponsor:
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