ARLINGTON, Va. — Memorial Day is a day to remember the service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Thousands of visitors flood Arlington National Cemetery for the annual remembrance celebrations.
The Memorial Day holiday is historically a big weekend at Arlington National Cemetery, filled with traditions and ceremonies. This year, due to COVID-19, only family members with a pass will be allowed at the cemetery.
For Bonnie Carroll, Memorial Day is a time to connect with other families who have lost loved ones while serving our country.
“When my husband was killed in an army plane crash, along with seven other soldiers, I went looking for that kind of support I knew had to exist,” said Carroll.
Bonnie Carroll started the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, back in 1994. Every Memorial Day, TAPS holds their National Survivor Seminar in Arlington.
“It’s a chance to be present with our loved ones at Arlington and honor our fallen heroes along with our Commander-in-Chief,” said Carroll.
Because of the coronavirus, many of the historic traditions will be moved online. “The show is going on and it’s going to be really spectacular."
"We are able, with technology, to actually bring families into the sharing groups so that folks can be in a group with maybe a dozen people,” Carroll said.
“We’ve actually brought families together virtually and made that connection through online platforms," said Carroll.
Already nearly 2,000 people have enrolled in the Memorial Day event. Carroll said one silver lining has been connecting families online from across the world who otherwise would not have been able to attend.
“We have been getting wonderful feedback from our families, they are typing in the chat box on these virtual events and expressing so much gratitude that this is available right in their homes and that they know they are not alone in their grief,” Carroll said.
These virtual seminars bring together families of fallen heroes, providing resources for those families and even helping support those struggling with the coronavirus.
“Many people in our country right now are grieving and we have the tools and resources to help. That loss doesn’t have to be a loved one. The loss could be the loss of life as we knew it. The loss of the future that we knew or the loss of employment,” said Carroll.
“Memorial day is the day that the nation pause is to remember and honor all those who served and sacrificed for freedom and for our families, it is a really sacred time,” said Carroll.
If you would like to contact TAPS or learn more, click here.