Jennie Haskamp has written a remarkable article published in Saturday’s Washington Post. The headline: ‘I’m a veteran, and I hate ‘Happy Memorial Day. Here’s Why’
I agree with her. Wholeheartedly.
For the last few days I’ve been pondering this topic of Memorial Day being a Monday Holiday and how it has been taken over by our culture of three-day weekends and the unofficial beginning of summer (still three weeks away) and another reason to hold a sale..
Like military tributes at baseball games, I wonder what businesses, organizations, retailers and consumers are thinking. Honoring America and those in uniform is fine. But this war decade has skewered our perception of what is right and what is normal.
What is right is remembering the roots of Memorial Day as Decoration Day, which began in the years after the Civil War to honor the dead, North and South. When I was small, families went to graves to tend to them. Honoring the service people was a part of that.
What is normal? Singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game (or, as the Orioles once did, Thank God I’m A Country Boy) during a baseball game’s seventh-inning stretch (itself a tradition, thanks to President Taft). Separate the honoring of America and those who serve it from things like the national pastime, so such energies can be devoted to the proper time and place.
What is right is making an effort to remember men and women who died for their country.
And what is right is remembering our patriotic holidays for what the are: Memorial Day for the war dead, July 4th for our nation’s independence, and Veteran’s Day for all veterans, past and present.
So this Memorial Day, don’t thank me for my service. My time in the Navy was a proud and useful time. But I survived it. Remember those who gave their life and reach out to their families and friends.
And on Veteran’s Day, thank me for me service, if you choose.
This weekend, though: Please remember those who died so we can be free.