2017 May 26, 3:54am
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On this Memorial Day weekend, perhaps we should think about what Memorial Day is, and what it isnâ€™t.
It is not, or should not be, just another day off from work, a day just for barbeques and beach parties and fun-in-the-sun. Itâ€™s not the beginning of summer, either, since the summer solstice wonâ€™t roll round until June 21.
Nor is Memorial Day a day set aside to honor military veterans, past and present, as some people seem to think. Former service members get their own day of recognition on Veterans Day, November 11 â€“ or the closest convenient Monday thereto. And current members of the U.S. military are supposed to be honored on Armed Forces Day, which was last Saturday â€“ although if you ask me, those guys and gals ought to be honored every day of the year.
And finally, with all due respect to the Registerâ€™s advertisers, Memorial Day is not â€“ or should not be â€“ a proper occasion for blow-out â€œMemorial Day Salesâ€ of cars and sofas and what have you. It is, or should be, too important a day to be used as a mere lubricant for the engine of commerce.
So thatâ€™s what Memorial Day isnâ€™t. What Memorial Day is in its true sense is a day to remember and honor the men and women who throughout our history have lost their lives while serving this nation in uniform.
There have been too many.
As Iâ€™ve noted in this space on Memorial Day weekends past, since this nationâ€™s birth more than 1.3 million Americans in uniform have died in wars large and small. Some are part of living memory, but most are not.
No one alive remembers personally any of the 25,000 Americans dead in the Revolutionary War, or the 11,000 dead in the War of 1812, or the 13,000 dead in the War with Mexico, or the 600,000 dead in the Civil War, or the 2,500 dead in the Spanish-American War. The 120,000 American dead in World War I are strangers to all but a handful of people, and even those with personal memories of the 400,000 dead in World War II and the 36,000 dead in Korea are steadily diminishing.
The 58,000 dead in Vietnam and the 300 dead in the Persian Gulf War and the almost 5,000 dead in Iraq and Afghanistan are closer to us in time, and their deaths for many people are still open wounds. I certainly remember the guys I knew who were killed in Vietnam, and the young men and women I knew who died in Iraq. I can still see their faces.
But those memories too will eventually fade. There will inevitably come a time when the recent dead will also pass out of living memory, when no one alive will be able to remember their faces.
But that doesnâ€™t mean they should be forgotten, any more than the dead of wars long past should be forgotten.
And not forgetting them is what Memorial Day is for.
Donâ€™t get me wrong. Iâ€™m not suggesting that the entire day be spent in mourning. I donâ€™t think those 1.3 million dead would expect or demand that we not have a happy holiday with family and friends.
And yet, itâ€™s not too much to ask for each of us to remember those men and women, and what they died for.
I know that many of you will be taking part in some Memorial Day activity. Youâ€™ll place flowers on graves or attend a Memorial Day service or perhaps just fly an American flag. Many people will also participate in the National Moment of Remembrance program, which calls for every American to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a moment of silence and reflection.
I hope everyone will do something. Because it only takes a few minutes, or an hour or two at most, to observe the Memorial Day holiday for what it really is.
And then in good conscience we can spend the rest of the holiday enjoying it for what it really isnâ€™t.
#MemorialDay #Veterans #Wars
If you want to remember those who died in service, that's your prerogative. I much prefer those who lived. Also, I choose to remember our fearless leader's great sacrifice working tirelessly to build buildings.
PS. I'm sorry to sully your thread with political humor. I will now admit that I have full blown TDS. I cannot even read a thread title about memorial day without thinking about Trump quotes. That said, I read and appreciate the text of your post.
I hope you and everyone else have a really nice weekend whatever you do.
Thanks. Best wishes to you too. As far as the commercialism goes, the frequent and long sales at least free people up ignore them knowing there will always be plenty more buying opportunities. Now, it's up to people to put that into practice. Car companies do love memorial day, though.
Reject a commercialized Memorial Day.
Buy a car at a police auction and use it to drive over rapefugees!
I'll be placing flags on graves with sons like i do every year. Also agree having Memorial Day sales is wrong in addition to all of the othe inappropriate sales days.
It is a day set aside specifically to express gratitude...gratitude to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so that we may have opportunity to enjoy the way of life afforded us. "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy