Memorial Day Ceremony 2021 at the Navy SEAL Museum
Video Recording of the Memorial Day Ceremony
31 May 2021
Memorial Day at the Navy SEAL Museum 2021
Thank you to all of our Gold Star Families, distinguished guests, staff, volunteers, and guests who came out in observance of Memorial Day at our Memorial Day Ceremony. This year was an exceptionally special ceremony at which the Museum unveiled our Memorial Garden and Living Beach as part of our Memorial.
The National Navy SEAL Museum Memorial Garden was created to replicate the botanical history of the Navy SEALs and their predecessors. As a living display of tribute, the Memorial Garden provides a place of solace and reflection for our Gold Star Families and Museum patrons. More than 1,000 flowers have been planted in remembrance of the fallen; among these are flowers representing the locations around the globe where Navy Frogmen have fought and died. More information on each flower can be located near the plant on a special marker with an individual QR code describing it and its country of origin.
The National Navy SEAL Museum Memorial Living Beach Twin 90 UDT Scuba Tanks contain sand from specific locations around the globe, representing the sites where Frogmen have fought, trained, bled, and died. Family and friends are encouraged to collect a small amount of sand from these locations and add them to the “Beach” during the Navy SEAL Museum’s Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations. In homage to the original “Living Beach” at the Navy SEAL Monument in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the UDT scuba tanks are opened twice a year in remembrance of Navy SEALs and their predecessors. Long Live the Brotherhood.
Keynote Sara Wilkinson delivered a moving speech that was both a beautiful tribute to her fallen husband–a dedicated and talented SEAL operator–and a powerful message for everyone about the insidious threat of suicide among our military, especially among the warriors of our Special Operations Forces.
The United States has leaned heavily on our Special Operations Forces since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Our nation’s elite units have been deployed continuously in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and other high conflict areas. Special Operations have consistently been assigned to duties that conventional forces might have handled previously, with less time allocated for leave than in former years.
This increased reliance and continuous combat cycle has taken a severe toll on our Special Operations troops. Also, returning to the civilian world for our Special Operations Forces can be often wrought with challenges, transitioning back into a “normalcy” they left for a very different one on the battlefield. Family life changes, relationship issues, and financial problems often compound the already elevated stress they experience following their deployment.
The silent struggle of those who have carried the disproportionate burden of ceaseless conflicts for two decades has led to a dramatic increase in blast wave injuries among our men, exacerbating an already acute increase in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Too often the stress these warriors are plagued by has led to suicide.They have been directly affected by combat–not just physically, but sychologically–constantly under siege, enduring the deaths of their friends and colleagues, while tasked with the killing of enemy soldiers, mission after relentless mission.
Suicide within the military has increased at an alarming rate. Three of our warriors that were honored at the Memorial Day Ceremony, LTJG (SEAL) David Richmond Metcalf, Special Operator Chief Petty Officer Chad Michael Wilkinson, and Special Operator Chief Petty Officer Edward Stephan Hebert, died by suicide.
The mortal wounds of war are many, visible and invisible, and at times the distance between injury and death is long. Just as we remember those warriors who died of wounds we could see, so we remember our warriors who died of wounds we could not see. Long Live the Brotherhood.
Special thanks to Beyond The Teams for their fundraising efforts. The Museum was so pleased to welcome the crew on Memorial Day, following their 300-mile paddle in support of our Trident House Charities Program.
Sara Wilkinson grew up the youngest child in a military family. Traveling the globe and attending over 15 schools before graduating prepared her for a life married to Navy SEAL, Chad Wilkinson. Her upbringing allowed her to understand the stress, high cycle time of deployments and frequent training trips, while furthering to instill her independence and resilience.
In addition to supporting her husband’s career, Sara has been working in the fitness industry for 20 years. Becoming a gym owner in the Virginia Beach area led her to being recruited for its larger organization, CrossFit, LLC. As a course supervisor, she spent the last eight years traveling the globe: public speaking, upholding the standards of certification and instilling community and camaraderie, regardless of time zones and language barriers. She holds a Bachelor of Science within the College of Health and Human Performance from the University of Florida.
Her husband served 21 years as an active duty Navy SEAL with more than 10 deployments. Unfortunately, Chad succumbed to the effects of PTSD, TBIs, and blast wave injuries leading him to die by suicide Oct. 29, 2018 and leaving behind Sara and their two teenage children.
She has seen firsthand the negative experiences among the SEAL community specific to multiple combat deployments, high cycle times, and too many friends lost, leaving lasting stress on the operators and their families. Sara fully intends to use her voice and her story to change the narrative and the number to this veteran suicide epidemic.
Fallen, Never Forgotten, We Speak Their Names
Memorial Day 2021
The mission of the National Navy SEAL Museum is to preserve the history and heritage of our Frogmen from World War II to the present day, to care for our Special Operations Families through our Trident House Charities Program, and to honor our Fallen at the Museum’s Memorial Wall.
The only museum in the world solely dedicated to preserving the history of Naval Special Warfare, the Navy SEAL Museum works diligently to care for our men and their families. We remember our Fallen by honoring their lives and legacies on the black granite walls of our Memorial. The Museum is committed to this mission every day, but Memorial Day, especially, is a sacred and solemn day set aside to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. We share the grief of these families who carry the heavy burden of great loss for a lifetime.
We invite you to reflect on the greatness of our nation because of the great sacrifice of our Fallen Heroes. This Memorial Day, we have asked friends and Teammates from all over the world to recite the names of each of the Frogmen who have died from World War II to present day. The Museum is grateful for their participation in the video here.
It has been said that a man dies twice. The first time is when he ceases to breathe. The second time is when his name is spoken for the last time. We honor our Fallen by remembering their lives. You honor them by sharing this video far and wide with your fellow Americans.
Fallen, never forgotten, we speak their names.
Long Live The Brotherhood.
Beyond the Teams
Beyond the Teams is a group of retired Navy SEALs who’ve teamed up to undertake a new kind of mission. Together, they conduct fundraising events for organizations and causes that help people with physical disabilities, cultural disadvantages, and practical needs going unmet because they are the “little guys.”
Their service to their community continues Beyond The Teams as they paddle a six-man outrigger canoe almost 300-miles from Key West to Fort Pierce, Florida in support of the National Navy SEAL Museum and its Trident House Charities Program outreach.