The Importance of Capturing Veterans’ Stories

June 27, 2017

W. Ashley Cozine, CFSP, CPC, CCO

President, National Funeral Directors Association

This Fourth of July Weekend, it’s important to reflect upon and celebrate the meaning of this national holiday by honoring those who have served our country to ensure our independence. Many Americans celebrate by attending parades or reminiscing on our country’s history.

Another way to commemorate this holiday is by recognizing the veterans in your life by simply spending time and having a conversation with them to learn more about their lives, hear their compelling stories and understand their experiences serving our nation.

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recently conducted its 2017 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study; the results showed that more than half of families feel it is very important to gather family history from older generations. Starting a conversation with loved ones about their life is a simple way to collect family history. With approximately 18.8 million veterans living today, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are countless stories to be told for years to come.

To help make these types of conversations easier, the Funeral and Memorial Information Council created a program, Have the Talk of a Lifetime, specifically designed to help prompt and guide meaningful exchanges. To help families jump-start a meaningful conversation with loved ones, NFDA developed a deck of conversation cards that offer fun and thought-provoking questions, such as:

  • What events in our nation’s history had an impact on you and how?
  • What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
  • How do you want to be remembered?

Capturing and collecting stories from the veterans in your life not only helps to preserve their memory, but also serves to help shed light on the important role these men and woman played in our country. Through the stories of the brave men and women who wore our country’s uniform, the history we read about in books and newspapers comes to life.

You can learn more about “having the talk” with the veterans in your family by visiting www.talkofalifetime.org.

NFDA has a long history of supporting veterans. Helping others to have these valuable conversations with our veterans is just one of the ways that we support this group. Our Advocacy team works diligently to make a positive impact on the laws and regulations that improve funeral and burial benefits for veterans and their families. Most recently, our Advocacy team was in Washington to show support of the BRAVE Act (H.R. 1212) which would improve funeral and burial benefits for veterans.

Chances are that most Americans know of or have a veteran in their life. It’s times like the Fourth of July when we need to show these courageous people how much we appreciate what they’ve done for our country. So I encourage you to take the time to sit down and talk with the veterans in your life, even if it’s to just ask them one question.

These conversations will help to ensure their legacy will live on even when they are no longer with us and remind them of the difference they have made for the lives of their fellow citizens.