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Memorial Tributes for Public Servants and the Preservation of Memories

by Jerri Haaven, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant

Photo by Beverly

Many people have lost a loved one who served our country in the military, or in another public service. Ceremonies honoring their services are worthy of thoughtful planning, which includes selecting a final resting place with intention. It might also include a choice of cremation and related decisions.

The funeral of a police officer, military service member or firefighter often creates a vivid lasting memory. The memorial service is generally coordinated so that family, friends and loved ones never forget the moment their hero is honored. The formalities, replete with symbolism, celebrate the loved one’s selfless service. Military cremation urns and other patriotic urns provide a way to hold their ashes and create a final resting place of recognition and honor.

Military Cremation Urns and Patriotic Urns

Examples of specially designed urns for public servants include military and patriotic cremation urns and an American flag keepsake urn. The Medallion Military Cremation Urn is handcrafted by an artisan in the USA, and is available for each branch of the military. To honor a loved one’s courage and sacrifice, there is a special Ribbon of Remembrance cremation pendant that can be engraved with the deceased’s initials. Urns, such as the Heartfelt Wishes Keepsake Box, help to preserve memories and tell the story of a loved one, or perhaps a fallen K-9.

Honoring a Legacy

In 2000, the Veterans History Project via the Folklife Center of the Library of Congress was signed into law. The project provides service members and their families the ability to share military stories going back as far as WWI. Narratives, recordings and visual materials, such as photographs, scrapbooks and drawings from the time in service can be submitted. Or share the story of an uncle or grandmother who served during WWI or WWII. 

Four years ago, I attended the funeral of a young petty officer who was killed in a training accident while deployed. The young man’s life was richly depicted at his service. There was an Eagle Scout uniform, along with pictures of him playing sports throughout his school years. There was a baseball glove, a football, fishing reel and tackle. There were baby pictures, family photographs, prom memorabilia, wedding photos, and pictures of him when he joined the military. A Navy ball cap was also displayed in his honor. I felt connected to this young corpsman and appreciated even more the enormity of his family and friends’ loss. I understood how the ship’s marines and sailors with whom he served would miss him. His legacy is now a part of American history. 

Memorial services for public servants and defenders of freedom gather a brotherhood like none other. Be prepared to experience a mournful rendition of “Amazing Grace” piped on bagpipes. The American flag will be ceremoniously folded. It will then be presented to the next of kin to thank the family for their loved one’s service. At the conclusion of the service, a 21-Gun Salute occurs followed by the playing of TAPS. 

Jerri Haaven is a freelance writer, and a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant. When caring for her dad, who suffered from dementia and COPD, Jerri struggled with the negative side effects of his illness. She developed positive outlets to express herself and recover from her loss. Today as a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant, she uses her skills to help people who are in the midst of their own personal story of grief and loss.