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May 2012

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Memorial Day Honor Roll

May 28, 2012
Memorial Day 2012 - image courtesy of
Today is Memorial Day, a holiday set aside to honor those who've made the greatest sacifice, giving their lives in the service of our country. Being in war is something I would never wish on anyone. But when there is armed conflict we need someone to step up and defend and fight for liberty.

The dilemma of war is that we should find a way on our planet to solve conflict with peaceful means. Until that becomes a reality we must remember that those who serve in the military are faced with an awesome duty. Memorial Day should remember not just military personnel, but also all others who die in war. Many innocent civilians sadly become victims of war.

ABC News reported today about the Roll of Honor - a memorial hosted by TogetherWeServed. Founder Brian Scott created it in 2003, a social network before Facebook and other social media sites became so popular. It was originally restricted to military and family, but now they have gone public. The site honors those who've given their lives in service to their country. These are powerful and moving tributes for this Memorial Day.

I recommend you visit the story posted by ABC News, Roll of Honor: A Modern Memorial to Those Who Gave Their All for This Country (here). Afterwards, take some time at the Roll of Honor memorial site (here) and see the information posted. That is a fine way to pay tribute to those who've served.

Remember, too, our veterans who didn't die. Some were wounded; others carry the burden of those times. Today I am naturally thinking about my father. He was an Air Force career pilot and combat veteran who died in January of this year. My tribute to him has been previously posted on this site, The Pilot Who Soared on Eagles Wings.

Under the Hood

May 27, 2012

I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car. Bruce Springsteen from "Growin' Up"

Tom Gilbert at age 2 under the hood of the family carMy sister found this picture of me when I was in Kansas City for my father's funeral in January. It is dated February of 1958. That would put my age at two years and a couple of months. I am holding my beloved "Ted Bear" that I dragged everywhere. As you can see, I am standing under the hood of our family car, one of those big old Buicks, a big, solid car.

The metaphor of standing under the hood and what is "under the hood" (inside our heads?) got me thinking. We all have things that "drive" us. Our personal "horse power" helps us accomplish goals and pursue dreams. As I gaze down the tunnel of time I can't help but wonder about this young Tom. Surely I am full of wonder, like any two year old.

What do you want out of life? How have the years and experiences shaped you? Have you started writing any of it down? Get "under the hood" of your life experiences. A good personal historian can be like a trusted mechanic.

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Preserving Wedding Memories

May 25, 2012

The Legacy Keepers Wedding LegacyJune is just a few days away. Traditionally this is a big month for weddings. More people get married in June than any other month.

A wedding is a momentous event that should never be forgotten. Anyone who has ever been part of the planning of a wedding realizes how much is involved. When the special day comes you hope that every detail has been carefully thought through and arrangements - from flowers to guests to vows - are well prepared.

How do you preserve all those special memories that go into this amazing event? Brides and grooms will forever have it etched onto their hearts, but having a tangible record of your memories is really important. Most people take lots of pictures, even video, and share this with friends and families. Wouldn't it also be great to have your wedding day preserved in a special legacy package?

Legacy Keepers, a life preserving company with whom I am affiliated, has just added a new Legacy Wedding line of video and book keepsakes. The company is showcasing this new line at one of the premiere bridal tradeshows, The Wedding Salon event in Chicago June 4th. There is also a Twitter contest (#WeddingWow) that you can enter for a chance to win a free Legacy Keepers Video Legacy specially designed for married couples. Details here.

To find out more about Legacy Keepers various life story package options you can contact me or visit this link. Be sure to sign up for your free interview guide.

Solar Ring of Fire

May 20, 2012

I, along with several family members (spanning about 4 generations), just witnessed something historic. The sun was almost completely blocked out by the moon, the annular eclipse that occurred late this afternoon. Albuquerque was perfectly in the path for this celestial event.

Annular solar eclipse May 20, 2012 in AlbuquerqueAnnular eclipses happen when the moon comes between the earth and the sun but is at its furthest distance from the earth. As a result it doesn't completely block the sun like a total solar eclipse. You get an awesome "ring of fire" when the eclipse is at its peak, which happened at 7:36 p.m. our time.

My brother-in-law made a nice pinhole telescope out of a long FedEx cardboard box so we could see the shadow of the moon crossing in front of the sun. But even better, he had purchased some eclipse safe glasses and looking through them was quite the site. Of course you never want to stare at the sun, eclipse or not, without proper protection.

Events like this are great for family members to see and share in the memories we made today. Something to write about (I think I just did!).

My Son Is Walking the (Graduation) Line

May 14, 2012
cap and gown - it's graduation
Today is sure to go down as a historic one in the Gilbert household as my son will be walking across the stage (hence, "walking the line") to get his High School diploma! My wife, daughter, son-in-law, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephew and friends will all be beaming and cheering for Eric.

I think High School graduations are special on so many levels. It is the completion of many years of education. All the studying, homework and tests. But also all the experiences of growing up, developing friendships, meeting challenges and dealing with the complexities of life - especially those we go through as teenagers.

Eric will go on to college and a career. We wish him the best and a part of him always is carried in my heart, just as I am sure he carries all of us in his. It's hard to believe that the little boy I wrote about in The Walk is now a young man. Way to go, Eric! I am proud of you son.

Remembering Your Mom Through Her Memories of Your Dad

May 12, 2012

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. There are so many people in our lives who can be special and important, but our moms - well, it is hard to describe, but for a lot of people it is the most nurturing relationship we can have.

I came across a nice video tribute of a mother that had a different twist. Bob Breakstone, an APH member and videographer, shared an interview and photo montage honoring him mom with details about how she met her husband (his father). His post on the Association of Personal Historians Blog, Remembering Mom for Mother's Day-and Every Day tells of their romance at a young age and their 42 years of marriage, all in the space of a few minutes. It's powerful and I urge you to watch it.

I'm remembering my mom, gone since June of 2006, but forever in my heart. I am loving and honoring her along with the other special "mothers" in my family - my wife, my daughter and my mother-in-law.

Happy Mother's Day you moms!

The Heartbeat of Your Story

May 9, 2012

I've written previously about getting to the heart of your story. It's important to know why you are telling your story. What's your motivation? Are you passing on information for your family? Do you have special values or an inspiring message to share? Is there a particular purpose for getting your story into writing?

Those who've followed my writing and comments on life story and personal history know I ask lots of questions. You need to think about the reason for your story. The burning desire - your purpose for sharing your story - is the driving force that will keep you motivated and pursuing it, whether you do it yourself or have a professional help you.

Figure out what the heartbeat of your story is. A great way to help you get started is to gather free information from personal history providers. Legacy Keepers has a free legacy guide you can download. That would be a great first step - plus you may find the right life story option for you.

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Asking the Right Questions in a Personal History Interview

May 4, 2012

Personal history is indeed a process. As the information is uncovered that makes up your story you will be constantly reflecting on it. Who am I? Where am I from? What matters most? These are just a few of the probing and introspective questions every life story, memoir or personal journey must ask. The answers behind these questions are wonderful gems to be mined and to reveal to you (and others) the story of you.

Most teachers will tell you that preparation is essential for good lessons. The same is true for your memoir or life story project. Before you sit down to an interview you need to mentally prepare. It is not essential that you know all the questions in advance, but I think it is a good idea to know some of them. And it helps to also have an idea of what parts of your life each interview will cover.

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