A woman’s visit to her grandfather’s grave prompted a movement to help others pay their respects to fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.
On March 25, 2020, Emily Domenech came up with the idea while visiting the gravesite of her grandfather, Col. John Domenech, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. She asked on her Twitter page if anyone else had loved ones who were buried there.
“Does anyone have buddies buried in Arlington who they would like visited today?” she wrote. “Since only family members are allowed in, I would be honored to pay respects on your behalf.”
During this time, only family members were allowed to visit the gravesites due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to the “Today” show.
Following her tweet, Domenech didn’t expect much of a response apart from some friends, but was quickly proven wrong.
“After hundreds, then thousands of responses, it became so clear that there was a huge need and desire to honor fallen people,” she explained. “Families from all around the world said things like, ‘My grandfather or uncle is buried there and I can’t travel from Kansas.'”
Does anyone have buddies buried in Arlington who they would like visited today? Since only family members are allowed in, I would be honored to pay respects on your behalf…
— Emily Domenech (@ehdomenech) May 25, 2020
— Megan Murat (@MeganMuratTV) May 25, 2020
Domenech shared she “ran around Arlington Cemetery like a crazy person,” honoring each request and uploading photos of the gravesite on Twitter. She also left a flower on each grave site she visited, a few taken from bouquets she bought for her grandfather. She went to the store to buy more once she ran out.
“I (barely) ate or drank, although my parents, whose barbecue I wound up skipping that day, brought me a sandwich and spent three hours helping me visit more graves, take photos and reply to tweets,” she said.
Domenech’s kind gesture led another Twitter user to find her personal Venmo account and offer to send her donations.
She directed the user to different charitable organizations, specifically the Travis Manion Foundation. The organization’s president Ryan Manion, lost his little brother, Travis Manion, 26, in 2007 after he was killed “by an enemy sniper while aiding and drawing fire away from his wounded teammates,” during an ambush in Iraq, per the organization’s website.
“He was the only member of this patrol that day who did not survive,” Ryan Manion shared with the “Today” show. “He received a Silver Star for bravery.”
This prompted Domenech and the Travis Manion Foundation to create “The Honor Project” where volunteers across the country visit the graves of fallen soldiers over the Memorial Day weekend.
“We all don’t have to serve in the military but we must have an understanding and appreciation of those that do,” Ryan Manion said.
He later added, “Those people sacrificed so you could have that barbecue … their sacrifice is why we have this incredible free country.”
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