4th of July is not just about fireworks, barbeques and fun times with family and friends. As we celebrate our nation's 239th birthday, it is also a time to reflect on the true meaning of freedom and the sacrifices made to secure it by many people throughout the years.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives fighting for freedom in this country, as well as in other places such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and during World War I and World War II. They all believed in the values of freedom and democracy that should not be taken for granted. On 9/11, America was confronted with a new threat to its freedom in the image of terrorism. Heroes answered the call of duty and volunteered to step forward and help saving lives and preserving freedom.
Artis Henderson is just one of a few of more than a thousand widows of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a bitter-sweet essay, she writes about dealing with the loss of her husband alongside a community of many other brokenhearted. She was facing the same challenge many family members of fallen soldiers deal with – that their loved ones were taken suddenly, without warning. Bereaved families are left with the haunting “if only” feeling - if only they’ve had another minute with their loved one, they would have had the chance of saying a proper goodbye, saying all the things they didn’t say, resolving unsolved issues or telling the person they’ve lost they love him or her.
As technology infiltrated into all aspects of our lives, honoring our dearly departed is no exception, with people are now looking for the virtual connection and turning to technology to cope with their grief. The internet has dramatically altered how we grieve and memorialize the dead, and it is only a natural evolution for mourning to extend to the web.
"Creating an online memorial is a way for friends and family to honor a loved one," said Yoram Krause, founder and CEO of infibond, the 1st social media network dedicated to digital memorialization and personal legacy. "Through dynamic discussion, photos, and videos, mourners can share their grief and begin to heal. There is no doubt that processing and communicating your grief after a loved one dies is very personal," adds Krause, "but sharing online makes it possible to express grief, to find support, to engage in conversations, and most importantly, to keep their memories alive."
Many people feel guilty and have regrets for not having the chance of a proper farewell and as a result, they choose to say the unsaid things through the internet. The growing trend of creating an online memory pages where family and friends can post messages, memories, photos and videos to a deceased’s memorial page, comes in as a form of a long goodbye , allowing mourners to close a circle and to let go at their own pace. When they miss their loved one, they can simply go online and look at the digital scrapbook of words, letters, photos, and videos and gain strength from the happy, cherished moments.
Become a Part of a Community
When a soldier dies in defense of a country, the family members are left behind to struggle with their grief and try to make sense of their new reality. Bereaved individuals who have suffered a loss can find support through connecting online with others, providing them with opportunities to connect with peers who have also suffered this terrible loss of a loved-one fallen during military service. This connection allows people to recognize that they are not alone and creating a sense of community through finding a virtual gathering place to express grief with others who experience loss.
Fallen Soldier’s Legacy: Never Forget
Heroes shouldn't just be remembered; they should be used as an example to inspire us all. “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example,” wrote Benjamin Disraeli. Rather than wallow in grief, many have found a way to keep the memory of their loved ones alive, inspired to create and preserve a beautiful legacy that is now cemented online forever through digital memorialization and legacy pages. Posting messages of love, hope and remembrance, as well as photos and videos, tells a story of a person, of whom he was and the impact he had on the people who loved him. As we celebrate this Fourth of July, we need to be truly thankful for sacrifices many made for our opportunities of freedom and remember them through keeping their memory and story alive.