Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Lie of Omission

I have to confess. I told a lie recently. A really horrible, awful lie. It didn’t start out that way, but before I knew it I was letting someone think my brother was dead. Not just dead. Killed in a war. And I let this happen on Memorial Day of all days.

I took our new nanny (the one who QUIT this week) to see President Bush speak at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. We got there a little later than I would have liked (even though we were still two hours early). We managed to get in, but the place was packed and there were no seats. There was one glorious row completely empty. We looked around and it seemed like we could sit there. I even asked a man in uniform who was working at the event if we could sit there and he said yes, so we parked ourselves on the end of the bench. As we were sitting there, I noticed everyone in front of us had on T-shirts that said TAPS: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. People had name badges on that also said things like, “Spouse,” “Sister,” and “Son.” There were rows and rows of people ahead of us. There were two women and some kids in front of us and, for some reason, as I was looking at them, I finally saw a small reserved sign on the other end of our bench, which was still empty. Oh no. I realized that this row must be part of the section that had been saved for the group. At this point, I probably should have moved, but I didn’t. There definitely were no other seats and, besides, our row was still empty.

After about an hour, a man in an Air Force uniform walked up to us and stared chatting. As soon as I had assessed that he wasn’t going to make us move, I quickly engaged him in conversation and kept trying to chat him up thinking no one would make us move if we were talking to someone in uniform (we’d look official, right?). We had some idle conversation (I’m from Utah, he is from Alabama). Then he asked me who had served in my family. I told him my brother, because he did and still does serve in the Navy. I can’t remember his exact words, but he basically asked me where he had served. I just finished saying Iraq (which IS NOT a lie—my brother did do two tours in the Persian Gulf) when it hit me that he thought my brother was dead. My brother who is alive and well in Virginia Beach.

I didn't correct him, so I didn’t technically lie, but I think it was a lie by omission. Then he asked me if it was my first TAPS conference. I had passed the point of no return, so I said yes, but technically it was my first TAPS conference. He said, “We’re here for you,” which is the TAPS tagline. I just sort of sat there, he walked away, and I turned to the new nanny and told her I don’t typically lie like that. No wonder she quit. Apparently she didn’t appreciate the lengths I went to so SHE could see the president. I've seen him before and Evan didn't seem to care.

After we got home, I Googled TAPS and learned more about the group. After reading more about TAPS, I’m really impressed with the work they do. It is a great organization that has conferences and meetings throughout the year to help the families of those who were killed while serving in the military. Check them out at

I made a donation to help assuage my guilt. Just as a side note--no one else ever sat on our bench, so we didn’t keep any of the TAPS participants from getting a seat--I promise I would have moved if that were the case.

The entire ceremony was beautiful and a great tribute to the men and women who have served and still serve in the armed forces. It was incredibly sad to see the children and loved ones of the men and women who had been killed while serving in the military. I can't imagine the pain they feel, but I certainly hope they realize how much we appreciate the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made.

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