The Compassionate Friends Atlanta Area Chapters

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To Those Who Serve.......

Pledge of Allegiance

Freedom to Grieve

Memorial Day Then and Now

Memorial Day - A Day to Remember

Names in Granite

For James on Memorial Day

One Soldier's Untold Story

Independence Day

On Memorial Day Reflections

Fourth of July


Fireworks Are Like the Love In Our Hearts

Bereaved Presidents

Freedom Is Not Free

Memorial Day

My Son, Another Fallen Comrade




Famous Quotes of Famous Americans

"We hold these truths to be self evident,
that all men are created equal." -Thomas Jefferson

"I know not what course others may take,
but as for me, give me liberty or give me death." -Patrick Henry

"Who better to soften the wound of another
Than he who has suffered the wound himself?"
~Thomas Jefferson

The National Anthem of the United States of America

The Star Spangled Banner

The History

The Star-spangled banner, the National Anthem of the United States of America
is a poem inspired by the Battle of Baltimore,
fought on September 12-14, 1814 during the War of 1812.

      The following is submitted by Faye McCord, TCF Co-Chapter Leader, Jackson MS  in loving memory of all our children and in honor of those who have so valiantly given their lives on the battlefields so we can live free of tyranny and terriorism.  May we all pause to give thanks for our freedom as we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th.
    Freedom - condition of being free or unrestricted     Grief - intense sorrow

    Does someone always have to die for others to be free?
    If that's the case, then freedom always leads to grief.

    Does someone always have to leave their families to fight for freedom's course?
    If that 's the case, then freedom's fight always leaves their families in remorse.

    Does someone always have to chart the course so others will know the way?
    If that's the case, then Compassionate Friends has opened freedom's gates.

    Have others walked this path before me to wage their war with grief?
    If that's the case, then they have also fought through pain and torment, and have lost their child so sweet.

    Is it possible for us to join together? - to fight for our freedom to grieve?
    If that's the case, then together we'll march on to try to live our lives in peace.

    And together we'll fight the battles of grief - all parents who are sorely bereaved,
    And pay tribute to the children we have lost, for they've given us the freedom to grieve.

    Written by Faye McCord, 
    In loving memory of my son,  Lane McCord (1/26/65 - 9/13/98)

    Memorial Day Then and Now

    Isn't it strange that in all the decades of my life, that I didn't really think much about Memorial Day until my sweet Nina died? That first Memorial Day was about 2 1/2 weeks after her death. She is buried in a very old cemetery with much history. I drove into that cemetery that Memorial Day and saw all the flags (about 170 of them I think) at each veteran's grave and I paused for the first time in at least three decades and really thought about the meaning of that day. 

    Last year, while at the TCF National Conference in Chicago, I spoke with one of the bereaved couples that also were attending the conference. The man was telling me about his duty in World War II, and how he survived for days in the ocean after their ship had been bombed, watched as many of his shipmates died, yet somehow he survived. I thought about how that must feel to have survived against all odds, but then decades later lose your own precious  child. Who can understand? A lovely lady I met while in Chicago, Jackie, walked in our on conversation. With tears in her eyes, she said to this man, "Thank you so much for our freedom." That really struck me. How I,  and I am sure many others, have just taken the freedom we enjoy every day for granted. 

    I watched "Saving Private Ryan" and that first half hour depicted the horror of the invasion of Normandy during WWII and all the lives lost. In that movie, a mother has been told that all three of her son's have perished in the War. I wonder if I hadn't lost a child if I would have felt the same gut-wrenching pain and sorrow as I did when watching that fictitious mother sink to her knees when told of her son's deaths. It affected me for days afterward. 

    Classmates of mine were killed in the Vietnam War. I remember being very sad about it, but I don't remember I thought much about it beyond that, about what they had sacrificed their lives for. It was all so far away from home...But now when Memorial Day comes along each year, I remember the mothers and fathers of the soldiers who died for our country, and my heart aches for them.  I would like to say to anyone who might be reading this today, who served our country in 'Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm, World War II, or anywhere else in this troubled world, just as Jackie did last summer, "Thank you so much for our freedom." 

    God bless every one of you. 
    Cathy Seehuetter, Nina's mom forever 
    St. Paul, MN TCF 

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    Memorial Day - A Day to Remember

    A day to remember our brave soldiers
    Who paid for our freedom the ultimate price
    Bouquets of tiny red, white and blue
    Flapping against hot, crystalline skies

    AKA Decoration Day
    A day is visit the final resting place
    Which embrace the remains of those loved ones
    Who will always fill our hearts' spaces.

    When the grave of the one you visit
    Holds the earthly body of one so dear,
    Your son, again return the feelings
    Of anguish, longing, frustration and fear.

    Fear of death?  No, long since gone.
    Fear of life! Will this pain ever end?
    Fear of forgetting? At first, overwhelming.
    Fear of lost faith, with God must we contend?

    Too young to be a soldier, sailor or marine
    Though service was once a childhood dream
    Of yours, though in my heart I couldn't bear
    Ever seeing you go marching off to war.

    But how could I know that before you'd reach
    The age of such decisions, you'd be gone.
    What have I learned, and now what must I teach
    From you short life and the journey I'm now on?

    The memorial to you must have a foundation
    Of weeping, yearning, searching and sorrow,
    Then must reflect the love and zest for life
    Without bitterness, with hope for tomorrow.

    On this Memorial Day, as I "decorate" your grave,
    Washing the stone with my tears and love,
    I "celebrate" you life and take comfort in knowing
    That you're not there, but are watching from above.

    ~Ruth Gregory, TCF Phoenix
    In Loving Memory of my son, Tim Jone
    6/12/76 - 1/7/93

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      Names in Granite

      Several years ago, on a visit to Washington, D.C., I visited the Vietnam War memorial.  I knew a young man who died during the war and whose name appeared on the Memorial.  I made a point of finding his name on the Wall; it was a moving experience for me.  After I located his listing, I stood at the Memorial, reflecting on his life, his surviving child and wife, and thought about what this Memorial must mean to them.

      This is a Memorial that was born in controversy.  One veteran called it, "the black gash of shame." Another veteran thought the Memorial did little to lift the spirits of the men who fought in the Vietnam War.  In fact, a second monument was built on the site to pacify those who expressed initial dissatisfaction.  As years have passed, however, and millions have visited the Memorial, it has come to be a place of healing and peace.

      People may wonder about its success as a tribute to the men and women who fought and died in Vietnam. But I don't.  As a TCF chaper leader and editor of our chapter newsletter, I have come to understand the meaning of the Vietnam Memorial and its message to all of us.

      We have a column in our newsletter titled, "That Their Light May Always Shine....Our Children Loved and Remember."  This column lists the day a child died, his/her name, and the child's parents.  We call these "remembrance dates" rather than anniversary dates, thereby avoiding a word that connotes celebration and jubilation.

      Occasionally and accidentally, I have omitted a child's name.  Invariably, when this happens, I receive a phone call from a very distraught parent who wants to know why their child's name did not appear in the newsletter.

      In fact, recently, a mother called to inform me that I had omitted her son's name.  This child died five years ago.  I asked why this error
      caused so much pain.  She said, "When his name appears in the newsletter each year, it is the only time I ever see it in print.  It is a sign to me that he lived and to anyone else that reads the newsletter.  Maybe everyone else has forgotten that he lived, but I remember and the newsletter reminds others.  Then I know I am his mother."

      I understood, as never before, the importance of the written word, or as in this case, the written name.  Any person who questions the impact of a black granite wall listing 58,132 names have never experienced the death of a child.

      Cissy Lowe Dickson
      ~lovingly lifted from Tuscaloose Area Chapters May-June 2001

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    This Memorial Day,
         We remember you,
    Not as a soldier who fought a battle
         Read about between the pages of our history book,
    Not as a soldier who fought for his country,
          For values and a way of life worth preserving.

    We remember you,
         As a soldier on the battlefield of life,
    Valiantly struggling through your own personal war,
         A war none of us were aware of,
    And all of us would have taken up arms for in your cause.
          We would have rallied, given muskets of courage,
    Canons of patience, barrels of understanding,
           Rifles loaded with love and compassion,
    But you didn't let us know we needed to come to your aid,
          We didn't know you were on the battlefield all alone.

    The dragons of despair, the monsters of melancholy, 
         The shadows of stress and the presence of pressures,
    We would have slayed them, we would have lessened their ability 
          To lead you astray from a life full of hope, promise and love.

    But now we remember you, this Memorial Day,
        For you valiantly fought a battle we're only vaguely aware of.
    You were our little soldier, our happy, carefree, confident, companion,
         We wish we could have helped you,
    But this was just one battle you had to selfishly fight by yourself.

    Your battle is over,
    but we're now engaged in a war of grief without end,
    However,  because of the joyous years of your short life, and
    the tragedy of the day it ended,
    we have learned that 
    life is short, precious and not to be taken for granted,
    We need to reach out to friends, help others along this journey,
      Help & Heal ourselves and those we love & care about,
    We treasure our memories of you and of our times together, 
        We remember you with love,
    But most of all, James,
         We will forever love you, miss you & remember you always.

    From Mom,  In memory of my son James
     (Meg Avery)

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        A true and beautiful story of an unknown hero in WW2.  I can attest to the truth in this story & very honored to present to you the following story of my cousin's fatherinlaw.  He received a Purple Ribbon with Letter of Commendation for the following incident.  Very neat story!  Love, Kaye

    One Soldier's Untold Story

    Today as we pay tribute to the veterans 
    who became heroes in World War II ...
    There is one story about a special hero 
    that I'm so proud to share with you. 

    It was on the second day of January. 
    Nineteen-fifty was the year. 
    A little German boy is alive today 
    because an American soldier was near.

    The American soldier, Pfc. Cary L. Carroll, 
    enjoying the English Gardens view, 
    soon braved the icy waters of the lake 
    when the ice broke & a boy fell through. 

    Witnesses stated that he showed courage 
    like they'd never seen before. 
    With no thought of the danger he faced, 
    he brought the boy safely to shore. 

    On the soldier's instructions, the little boy 
    crawled onto the ice & took his hand. 
    Many lives were changed that very day 
    by a hero in a foreign land. 

    The hero sought help from a passing motorist, 
    then immediately left the scene. 
    His heroic actions would have gone undetected, 
    had the witnesses not intervened. 

    You see, the three German witnesses, 
    aided by the Munich Military Post, 
    traced & found the American soldier's name. 
    Like all heroes, he didn't want to boast. 

    The story was reported to the Commanding General; 
    He was honored for being so brave. 
    A true hero was born in the eyes of the little boy 
    this soldier courageously took time to save. 

    He came home to the ones he loved; 
    With a heart as pure as gold. 
    He'll forever be a hero to the ones that love him ... 
    And to the boy he rescued from the cold. 

    He has now became stricken with illnesses 
    And in a wheelchair he is confined. 
    But he'll always be the hero to the ones he loves ... 
    That purple ribbon will forever shine. 

    Yes, I have shared this wonderful story with you, 
    and every word of it is true. 
    Oh I'm thankful from the bottom of my heart 
    that my dad is a hero of World War II. 

    Kaye Des'Ormeaux 
    Copyright 2001 
    Dedicated to Dennis L. Carroll 
    In Honor of his own Hero & Dad, 
    Pfc. Cary L. Carroll 

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    Independence Day

    The Fourth of July, Independence Day, Our Nation’s Birthday. Whatever you call it, we celebrate America’s independence from England on July 4 each year. 

    As a nation, we have endured for 200+ years to become a significant independent and powerful force in the world. We were founded on the principles of equality and religious tolerance, of equity and opportunity, and of rights and responsibilities. Several generations of men and women have defended our precious freedom with their lives. 

    As we celebrate this year, let’s take a moment to remember those who paid the ultimate price for freedom – and to remember their families. It is sometimes easy to think only of the glory of their sacrifices, and to overlook the sacrifice of their families. War is never glorious, no matter how romantic the notion created by Hollywood. War has casualties that go farther and deeper into the fabric of our nation than we may realize. Those who died are buried with fanfare, as befits a nation’s fallen valiants. And their families learn to go on, just as we have, in spite of their loss.

    But think for a moment of those who were declared missing in action, or who were prisoners of war. Their families must endure, often for years, and sometimes without an end to their pain and loss.

    Remember all of our nation’s fallen when you celebrate this year. Remember those ceremoniously laid to rest; remember those who were captured, imprisoned, even tortured; remember those whose fate remains unknown. And remember, too, the families of all of them. 

    Death, no matter how noble, is never easy for those left behind. 

    We send our thanks to the veterans - living, dead, and missing – and their families. 

    Tom and Sondra Wright,TCF, Atlanta, Georgia 

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    On Memorial Day Reflections:

     WOW!!! What an astounding piece of writing. Oh yes, ask me about burning the flag. I have an American flag that was draped over my son's coffin. He was in the Navy and although he did not die in a war, he was serving his country and proud of it and I am so damn proud of him for doing so. I also have a flag that was flown over the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor in 
    Michael's memory that me and my family cherish. 

    I was born in Slovakia, which at that time was the Communist country of Czechoslovakia. I would tell anyone that wanted to burn the American flag to go live in a communist country and then see if they still wanted to burn the flag. I am so proud to be an American and it just makes me so angry when I see people burning the American flag, especially someone who lives in America. The US may not be perfect but it sure beats living in any other country. 

    We have a flagpole in our front yard and fly the US flag and a Navy flag daily. We should honor all the men and women who have fought and died for our flag and honor the flag also. 

    God Bless this great country and every one of us missing our children.

    Have a safe Memorial weekend. 
    Love and Hugs to all 


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    Fourth of July

    Each Year on the 4th of July we celebrate the birth of a great nation - a nation of people "united" in a dream. It was through hope, determination and a bonded strength that the people of America strived to achieve their dream of freedom to be a free nation. 

    Nothing, however, is achieved without a strong will. We, too, as bereaved parents are fighting a battle to be free - free of the pain that has become a part of our waking days. We want to be happy. We want to be able to enjoy life again. You are one of those proud Americans. Refuse to give up. Fight for your dream. There is peace to be found in freedom! 

    ~lovingly lifted from TCF Wichita, KS Newsletter 
    ~written by a member of TCF, Homdel, NJ 

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    You used to run around with a sparkler in your hand, pretending you were a Minute Man or a Patriot drummer. 
    It didn't matter, there was time for all. 

    You'd wrap a rag around your head and take your toy drum, and tromp around the yard. 
    Whatever you were on those wonderful nights, you loved it! 

    And we watched and laughed as you waved your tiny flag, 
    thinking maybe you were the one who really under-stood what we celebrated. 

    Now the drum is gone and no one gets sparklers any more. The yard is quiet on the Fourth of July. 
    Do you still march and play the drum for others? 

    -Author Unknown 

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    Fireworks Are Like the Love In Our Hearts

    July brings Central Oregonians lingering blue skies, lazy afternoons and the Fourth of July celebration, complete with the grand fireworks finale bolting from the top of Pilot Butte. This was one of my son's favorite holidays. When he was six I asked him why fireworks were so special to him. He said, "The lights explode in the dark and make the whole sky light up!" That was obvious. I said "Hum?" He gave me one of his "Oh mom" looks, then went on to say "The fireworks are like the love in our hearts, we should always try to spread our love out to others". I knew then and I still am aware today that profound wisdom comes from the lips of our children. From the summer on, in my mind, fireworks have been a triumphant testament of love's enduring power and wonder. I miss my son, Joshua terribly. I comfort myself knowing that his wisdom and kindness were precious gifts in my life. 

    Wherever you are on the Fourth of July, I hope that the splendor of sparkling fireworks might comfort as you acknowledge that the love you hold dear for your child is the light that is able to shine through you. We all have known grief well, yet as compassionate friends we need not walk alone in the darkness. We can lighten the path for others. 

    Grief can cripple and destroy us, but as we gather to share each other's burden, we are able to gain strenght. Love for our children is our common flame, sharing and caring keep the flames afire. I look forward to our next meeting and the opportunity to hug and listen to my comrades. 

    ~lovingly lifted from TCF Salem, OR Newsletter 
    ~written by Jane Oja, TCF, Central Oregon Chapter 

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    Bereaved Presidents

    Did you know that… 

    Twenty of our 42 presidents and their wives were and are bereaved parents?

    Our second president, John Adams, lost his son Charles, 20, while he was president. 

    Thomas Jefferson had six children and only two lived to maturity. One daughter, Mary, 26, died while he was president. 

    James Monroe lost a son two years of age. 

    John Quincy Adams lost a daughter in infancy; a son died while Adams was president; and another son died five years later. 

    William Harrison had ten children; six died before he became president. 

    Zachary Taylor had six children; two died as infants and a daughter died three months after her wedding. 

    Millard Fillmore’s daughter Abigail died at 22. 

    Our fourteenth president, Franklin Pierce, lost two sons in infancy. History records his wife’s grief so great that he resigned from the Senate. Two months before his inauguration to the presidency, their only child, Benjamin, 11 years old, was killed in a railroad accident. Mrs. Pierce collapsed from grief and was unable to attend the inauguration. She secluded herself in an upstairs bedroom for nearly half of her husband’s term in office. 

    Our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, lost two sons during his lifetime: Edward, four years old, while President Lincoln was in office; and William, 11 years old. He wrote, "In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all…it comes with bitterest agony…Perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot realize that you will ever feel better…and yet this is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have experienced enough to know what I say." The president’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, unable to cope with the assassination of her husband and the death of yet another son, Thomas, 18 years old, was confined to a sanitarium. Although she was released after a few months, she was never to be well again. 

    Rutherford B. Hayes had eight children, three of whom died in infancy. 

    James Garfield had seven children; two died while still infants.

    Chester Alan Arthur’s eldest son died in infancy. 

    Grover Cleveland’s eldest daughter, Ruth, died at 13 years of age. 

    Our twenty-fifth president, William McKinley, lost both children: Ida, four months old, and Katherine, four years old. His wife became so overwhelmed with shock and grief that she became an invalid for the remainder of her life. 

    Theodore Roosevelt’s son died at 21 years of age. 

    Calvin Coolidge had a son, Calvin Jr., who died at 16 while his father was in office. Recorded in his autobiography, the president said, "When he went, the power and glory of the presidency went with him."

    Franklin Roosevelt’s son, Franklin Jr., died in infancy. 

    Dwight Eisenhower’s son, Doug Dwight "Icky," three years old, died at Camp Mead, Maryland. In President Eisenhower’s autobiography written in 1969 (49 years after Icky died), he stated, "With his death a pall fell over the camp. When we started the long trip back to Denver for his burial, the entire command turned out in respect to Icky. We were completely crushed – it was a tragedy from which we never recovered. I do not know how others have felt when facing the same situation, but I have never known such a blow. Today when I think of it, even as I now write of it, the keenness of my loss comes back to me as fresh and terrible as it was in that long, dark day soon after Christmas, 1920." 

    John F. Kennedy’s two-year-old son, Patrick died while his father was president; Kennedy lost another infant prior to becoming president.

    George Bush and his wife Barbara lost their daughter Robin to cancer. 

    -Harriet Deshayes, TCF, Fresno, CA 

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    Memorial Day

    For each grave where a soldier lies at his rest 

    For each prayer that is 

    said today out of love 

    For each sigh of remembering someone who died 

    Let us also give thought to the mothers and fathers 

    the brothers and sisters 

    the friends and the lovers 

    whom death left behind. 


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    My Son, Another Fallen Comrade

      Recently our town had a visiting replica of the Vietnam Wall Memorial to commemorate Vietnam Veterans' Day. I felt a strong need to go to see and honor the names of my marine comrades from twenty-five years ago engraved on the wall. I took my camera to record their names, twelve in all, including my aunt's nephew, whom I knew as a young boy. 

      When my twenty-year -old son Chris first died, I had no frame of reference other than my experience as a young Marine officer. In training, in stateside operations and finally in combat, I experienced the losses of dear close friends, brothers in arms. So many, so fine, so young, with all their potential and enthusiasm for life abruptly wrenched from my life. The loss of the strong and good friendships and the loss of the chance for a long and meaningful relationship became a frequent, tragic part of my young life. 

      These fallen comrades became a double-edged sword in my heart in 1988 with Chris's death. At 20, he was close in age to theirs. As a NROTC student, he wore the uniform and served the military with eager dedication. I remember that my first reaction to my son's death was to put it in the same context: The Ultimate Fallen Comrade. I even arranged for him to have a military funeral, even though he was still a college student. 

      So now I grieve for them all. The loss of these friends surges through my emotions again. There is a parallel perspective for me: they died at about the same time that my son was born. Some how I am left with the excellent possibility that now they all know my son, just as they knew me, a comrade in arms.

    Ed Kuzela, Atlanta, Ga (1991) 
    In Memory of Chris Kuzela (Memorial)
    July 7, 1967 - April 24, 1988 

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