Family of fallen say every day is Memorial Day

Julia LeDoux
May 24, 2019 - 1:37 pm

(Photo courtesy of TAPS)

For Sara Wilson and her daughters, Christina and Kate, every day is Memorial Day.

That’s because they honor and remember their husband and father, retired Navy Capt. David Wilson, 365 days a year.

The Wilsons world was changed forever when David unexpectedly died of a heart attack on Feb. 5, 2014. He was 53.

“The last thing he did before he died was to kiss Christina and Kate good-bye,” Sara said. “He was going off to work.”

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Christina was 6 when her father died. Kate was 2.

“He made the best chocolate chip pancakes,” Christina said. “When he came home, he would pick me up on his shoulders. When we walked in the house he would say `Daddy’s walking with his little girl.’”

 Sara and David got married when they were “a little older,” she said. His service in the first Gulf War led to an ongoing joke between them.

“He was combat ready for children,” Sara said with a laugh, adding that Christina and Kate were David’s princesses.

About two weeks after his death, a friend sent Sara an email introducing her to TAPS  – The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.   The non-profit organization provides care and support to families and friends grieving the loss of a member of the armed forces

“It was so comforting to know there was a peer group who got it instantly,” she said.

Bonnie Carroll founded TAPS in 1994 after her husband and seven others were killed in a plane crash in Alaska. Since then, TAPS has conducted National Military Survivor Seminars and Good Grief Camps around the country.

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“Surviving families are the living legacy of what’s the best in America,” she said. “We meet them where they are with the support they need.”

This Memorial Day weekend, TAPS is holding its 25th annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp in the greater Washington, D.C.. area and the Wilsons will be among the thousands who will attend.

“They provide so much comfort and love,” said Christina.

Throughout the weekend, kids like Christina and Kate will share and learn coping skills through games, crafts and other activities in a fun and supportive environment. Each child is paired with either an active duty service member, veteran or legacy mentor who has graduated from Good Grief Camp to remind the child that he or she is still a part of the military community and that it's ok to grieve.

“Grief is not a mental illness,” she said. “We only grieve because we love. And, love lives on.”

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