In that this is Memorial Day Weekend, I can’t help but wonder what people think of this day. To many, it is a “three day weekend” and only means an extra day off. To others it means beer and hotdogs and picnics. I wonder how that happened. The name it self should provoke some thought on the concept of memorial and the people we are memorializing. Memorial day is not an extra day off, or a long weekend, or a day set aside to picnic and party. Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember those who have given their all in defense of our country. They are the ones who gave up their lives so that the protesters, the flag tramples, and the naysayers can do exactly that. But I cannot help but wonder how many of those people who have such negative thoughts of our great country even know, or care, that they gave their lives to protect their freedom to engage in such activities.
Before I get angry and turn this article into a rant, I must step back and remember why I am writing. I am writing to remind everyone what and why there is a Memorial Day. For the baby boomers and before, you may recall the term Decoration Day. That was the name originally given to the holiday when it was established shortly after the end of the Civil War. The intent of the day was to give everyone an opportunity to “Decorate” the graves of those who died in battle during the Civil war. Shortly after the end of World War I the concept was extended to include all fallen members of the Armed Forces. Decoration Day originally was celebrated on May 30th, regardless of the day of the week. In 1971, by an act of congress, the day was officially named Memorial Day and placed on the last Monday of the month in May. It is my belief that from that point forward, each year Memorial Day became more about hotdogs and beer and less about remembering and decorating.
But who are we memorializing. How many have given their lives to defend this country and the freedom it provides? The number is staggering. Over 1.3 million Americans have died on the battle field. Another 1.5 million could have been in that group as they were wounded in battle but miraculously not killed in action. Add to that the 38,000 missing and action and as you can see, many, many Americans have given a lot or their all to ensure that I can sit here and write articles about anything I want, to insure every American has a voice, to insure we are now free, and hopefully will remain free knowing that we are living in the greatest nation on the earth. But then I think that we have chosen to honor them by drinking beer and eating hotdogs. How is this honoring them? Have we collectively, as a Nation, turned the opportunity to honor our war dead as an opportunity to party and picnic? If so, is it not time we changed this course and once again remember what Memorial Day (Decoration Day) is all about. I know many of us have war dead in our own families.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not taking some high ground and preaching to the rest for I am just as guilty as the rest for minimizing the rue meaning of this holiday. It is time to try harder, to remember and do more. Why not have Memorial Day Parades across the nation. Why not have the Parades terminate at Veteran’s cemeteries, and why not have Politicians stand up and speak to us, not about getting our vote, but about how lucky they are to be able to stand up and speak freely to us. Just ask yourself what have you done to honor our war dead on this day in the past, and what can you do to honor our war dead in the future. And one more thing. Do not patronize any establishment that has a “Memorial Day Sale”. It is beyond comprehension that any one would want to use this day to increase their bottom line.
That is my take on memorial day for this year. Hopefully this was not too much of a rant. I did not want it to be. I just wanted it to be a prod to remind you to remember. If you cannot do anything else, please remember to observe The National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00pm on Memorial Day. It is the lease we can do, don’t you think?
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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