Getting Personal #11: Memorial Day, The Military, And An Awesome Charity

With Memorial Day coming up tomorrow, I wanted to share my thoughts on the military, and tell you about an awesome charity that was highlighted by earlier this week.

Something I see online almost every year, around this time, is the the reminder that this weekend is not all about the day off from work on Monday, the road trips, the “unofficial start to summer,” and so on.

One of the images that I saw on Facebook being shared earlier this week definitely made me pause and reflect:

I’m not sure if the numbers under Iraq and Afghanistan are accurate anymore (unfortunately), but the numbers in general are stunning, breathtaking, compelling.

Also, the Gulf War was unfortunately omitted from this graphic, so I am adding 294.

Since the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, a total of 619,594 U.S. men and women have died for our country.


I loved this article about Elsa Zarate. She started Bands4Courage, making custom bracelets and wristbands out of old military uniforms.

Image Credit: Elsa Zarate

Image Credit: Elsa Zarate

It all started when she took apart her son’s old boot camp uniform and made a wristband of parts and pieces, to keep him close to her while he was deployed with the Marines.

It was so unique that people started ordering bracelets and donations of uniforms started pouring in. She provides five free bracelets to anyone who donates a uniform. Bracelets typically cost between $5 and $10. One-half of the proceeds directly supports organizations that work with service members and their families. With every bracelet, Zarate includes a card with information about the uniform used in the piece and the person who wore it for our country.

Her son returned home safely and is stationed in California, but Zarate knows of those whose sons, daughters, parents, and other family members weren’t so lucky.  She made her first bracelet in 2011, and, to me, she is definitely proud of what she does.

I’m definitely going online and checking out Bands4Courage. As a proud Coast Guard brat and having other relatives serving and have served (grandfathers, cousin, extended family), I’m very passionate about the military. Throughout the last several years I have considered joining the CG, but ultimately realized that I’m just not military material. However, I will tell my kids about my dad and my family with great pride and admiration. And if they decide some day to go to one of the military academies for college, join the ROTC, or enlist in one of the branches of service, I will beam with pride as I encourage them to serve their country proudly and with great honor.

As we celebrate Memorial Day 2015, I will be thinking of my Grandpa Madan in heaven, who served in the Army. He married my Grandma Grace just five days before D-Day in 1944. He fought valiantly in Europe and received the Purple Heart. One of my favorite pictures of him is him in his Army uniform. I definitely miss him, he’s been gone for nearly seven years now, but I always think of his service. He never talked about the war, but I know his service left a lasting impact on his life.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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