Panama City Beach, Florida known for the world's most beautiful beaches
December 2 - 4, 2011 Gold Star Holiday Retreat & Remembrance
Gold Star family members found peace and solace as they walked along the beach collecting sea shells as broken in places as they are in their hearts. During the day and night, the calming sound of gentle waves wafted through their open windows and doors at the Sugar Sands Inn on Front Beach Road. (http://www.sugarsands.com/) A bright moon hung above and cast a glow like a pathway across the water that made one feel as though they could step onto it and walk into the heavens. The morning sun rising and the evening sun setting across the emerald waters brought a renewed hope.
2011 Gold Star Holiday Retreat & Remembrance Beach Walks & Sunsets
Gold Star moms Carolyn Tom and Virginia Jim of New Mexico stroll along the beach during the 2011 Gold Star Holiday Retreat & Remembrance.
"I have to tell you that I've been recharged and charged up since returning from the 2011 Gold Star Holiday retreat. I've gotten involved with the GIGSS(GI Grannies for Soldier Support at Ft. Carson) and adopted a nurse case manager, his wife and their 3 children yesterday at a Christmas party we helped with. Lt Scott is a nurse case manager with the Wounded Warriors and he has no parents and his wife's family lives in IA. He needs support so he can do his best to help our wounded warriors. His kids are 2, 4, and 6. Tonight I am going to a potluck dinner with them to a group from church and then we're going caroling!" Nancy, Gold Star mom, Colorado
WHY Panama City Beach, Florida for a Gold Star Family Holiday Retreat....
After becoming the wife of a U.S. Marine and moving to Oceanside, California near Camp Pendleton, my heart never let go of one day retiring at Panama City Beach where the white sugar sand and warm Gulf emerald waters had captured my heart as a little girl. While growing up in the Columbus, Georgia area, my grandfather would drive the four hour jouney to Panama City Beach where then a car could be driven onto the sand and a blanket placed on the soft white grains between the car and warm Gulf water for a day of play.
In August 2008, my dream was realized when my husband Dave, a retired USMC Sgt Major, and I were fortunate enough to build our retirement home one mile from the sugar sand beaches and water I'd always loved. But this did not happen before the most tragic event of our lives.
In 2002 we left California and returned to Georgia where Dave had also grown up before entering the Marines and heading to Vietnam in 1967. While there, Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003 which called for the deployment of my husband's only child and namesake, U.S.Army Sgt Patrick Tainsh. Patrick was with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment/2nd Squadron/Eagle Troop. On February 11, 2004 Patrick's life was taken from earth, leaving Dave and me with the wounds of war ripping apart our souls.
In the months following that day we met other families traversing the same journey as we traveled to events for families of the fallen. We spent weekends in Panama City Beach, the four hour drive from our Georgia home. This became the only place where I felt relaxed, because returning to the place where the excrutiating knock had occurred only left me sadder again.
After 4 years, Dave and I decided Panama City Beach was where we needed to be. After all, Patrick had loved the ocean and surfing before he became a U.S. Army Cavalry Scout. Our family had spent many fun days along the beaches of Sothern California in years past. Maybe this beach would allow good memories to live with us again.
And it has due to a community that we have embraced as it has embraced us. After connecting with other Gold Star family members in the area, Dave and I felt our journey since 2004 had led us to help other military parents who were greiving from the same sacrifice as we.
What better place to invite other bereaved military families for a retreat than the beautiful beaches and military community we had become a part of. 2010 was the first Gold Star Holiday Retreat & Remembrance with 65 family members. Family members were so inspired by the 2010 retreat that they asked if we could have another in 2011. With help from the Panama City Beach/Panama City communities surrounded by retired military personnel, veteran's organizations, Naval and Air Force installations our civic leaders, business owners, and veterans' organizations helped maked the 2011 Gold Star Holiday Retreat & Remembrance an unforgettable experience.
Family members found peace and solace as they walked on the beach collecting sea shells as broken in places as they are in their hearts. During the day and night, the calming sound of gentle waves wafted through their open windows and doors. A bright moon hung above and cast a glow like a pathway across the water that made one feel as though they could step onto it and walk into the heavens. The morning sun rising and the evening sun setting across the emerald waters brought a renewed hope.
Next year we hope to add a trip with walks through the new beautiful 22- acre Conservation Park ( http://www.waltonoutdoors.com/a-variety-of-nature-trails-await-the-explorer-at-conservation-park-in-panama-city-beach/) that opened in fall, 2011 or visit our beautiful St Andrews State Park (http://www.floridastateparks.org/StAndrews/default.cfm) that has been voted the most beautiful state park in Florida.
With beautiful Pier Park's restaurants and shops near the beach where on special occasions the quaint
streets are lined with flags owned by the NW FBrigade of Soldiers Angels; Zoo World, Gulf World, and the stunning Edgewater Conference Center where the Saturday evening Remembrance Banquet is held and the breath taking Veterans' Plaza where the Sunday morning closing tribute takes place, Gold Star family members return to their homes feeling rejuvenated and ready to take one more step into one more day trying to help themselves by also reaching out to help others who have also suffered from the sacrifices of war.
We call this our "Pay it Forward Program."
Beyond the annual GS Holiday Retreat, hearts and arms of Bereaved Military Families of America remain open to assist as best we can any Gold Star family member who needs a support team from the family that truly undertands their grief.
If you need someone to talk to and just listen, or need to know about other resources available to bereaved military families, please contact Bereaved Military Families of America. email@example.com
Footprints(all photos property of Deb Tainsh)
One night I had a dream--
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
"I don't understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never, never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
"When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."
Why Panama City Beach, Florida for a Gold Star Family Holiday Retreat....