TD colleague and Gold Star Mother Cathy Hicks asks for a moment of silence at 3PM
For Cathy Hicks and her family, "every day is Memorial Day."
The Gold Star mother lost her son, Lance Corporal Jon T. Hicks, at the age of 20 in 2007, while the Marine was doing patrols in a Humvee in Iraq. Her life has never been the same.
"You never get over it, but you learn to live with it, " said Cathy, TD Bank Supervisor for Item Processing and Foreign Check Collections in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. "But all the support you get, it's really important. I've been at TD for 29 years, and I've always been so supported by everyone here. "
In the years since Jon's death, Cathy gets messages and phone calls every Memorial Day from members of his unit. They've also visited the family over the years to talk about Jon, who they considered the definition of a Marine.
"He was very by the book," said Cathy, who resides in Atco, New Jersey. "When he told me, he wanted to join the Marines, we had to accept it. In January, he started bootcamp and was deployed that April in Iraq. He was killed on September 10, 2007. For us, it's like yesterday."
However, with COVID-19 restrictions, many public parade and adjunct events normally held on Memorial Day to commemorate fallen heroes have been canceled. Cathy says there are still ways for everyone to observe the day and pay homage to those we've lost.
"It's going to be an odd situation," she said. "At home, you can put a flag pole at half-staff sunrise until noon. If you are out, wear a pin or the red poppies. You can support our troops by making a care package. People seem to forget we still have troops out there. Jon always appreciated those packages."
She also suggested keeping a moment of silence at 3 PM or "even just say a prayer."
TD Bank honors the sacrifice of our fallen heroes
Before joining the Marines, Jon worked at TD for a short time, along with his brother Kyle, so the Hicks family has a strong connection to the bank throughout the years. TD has been such a strong supporter of the Jon T. Hicks Scholarship since its inception in 2008. This year, Cathy's co-workers made a sweet gesture she just never saw coming.
"We had to cancel our benefit dinner for this year," Cathy said. "But when I went to refund everyone, most of the people at the bank asked that I keep it as a donation for the fund. It meant so much."
Cathy and her family also honor Jon's memory in a way that many others in her situation would not have the strength to do so. Whenever a soldier returns from deployment to their hometown, the Hicks family makes sure they receive a celebratory Welcome Home.
"One of the moms asked how I [have the strength to] do it," Cathy said. "I just don't want another parent to go through what I did. Instead, this is a celebration when a soldier comes home."
Memorial Day is 'most powerful holiday'
Andrew Camponelli, TD Bank Senior Marketing Manager and U.S. Executive Lead for Veterans feels a particularly strong tie to the fallen heroes we celebrate on Memorial Day. Andrew served 15 years in the U.S. Army as an Aviation Officer and UH-60 Blackhawk Medevac pilot and did two tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait/Iraq. He has been at TD for over two years.
"To me, Memorial Day is the most powerful holiday there is," Andrew said. "As a Medevac pilot, I saw the realities of war firsthand, the good and the bad. When you reflect and think of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country to preserve and protect our way of life – it's simply incredible."
TD Bank has been a strong supporter of The Memorial Day Flowers Foundation (MDFF) for years, with donations for the purchases of flowers to be placed at veterans' cemeteries across our Maine to Florida footprint. Many TD colleagues have volunteered to place the flowers over the Memorial Day weekend in past years.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions this year. TD's efforts will focus on Arlington National with a donation of $12,500 for flowers and four TD colleagues who volunteered on their own to assist with these efforts.
TD Bank has made a solemn commitment to honor military service and our veterans by renewing its focus on hiring efforts with a robust strategy that includes many different initiatives. The bank plans to launch it later this year.
"Each year, I spend Memorial Day reflecting, remembering and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. And while we cannot be together in person this year, I am inspired by how our colleagues have found ways to come together to honor those we have lost," said Ernie Diaz, Head of Consumer Distribution & Wealth and Executive Sponsor of TD Bank's Veterans pillar. "I am forever grateful to all who have served, who continue to serve, and who will serve this great country."