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Please Don’t Say Happy Memorial Day

Please Don’t Say Happy Memorial Day

 

Memorial Day — it really is more than an excuse for a car sale, a white sale, or a barbecue. If you are here in the DC area, it is also more than a huge traffic jam or enormous crowds on Metro.† Nor is this Veterans Day, when all veterans are to be thanked for their service.† And please, don’t wish anyone a Happy Memorial Day!

This is Memorial Day, a day to remember those of our nationís military who have died in the service of their country, from Lexington to Valley Forge, from Bull Run to Gettysburg, Iwo Jima to Normandy, Inchon to the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sahn to Saigon, Kuwait to Najaf, and Kabul to Laghman.† These were the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends and lovers who put on the uniform and went to war and who didnít return.

This day, that began as Decoration Day in the deep South after the Civil War, was designed as a dedication to the fallen, a day of reflection, gatherings at cemeteries and memorials and of course, in our own very American way, a day for parades. Again in our all-American way, it has become associated with sales, a reason for a day off and as the first day of summer, the day the local pools open for swimming.† We hear “Happy Memorial Day” chirped at us by cheerful sales people as we check out of the local store — and for some, it is inconceivable that anyone could be “happy” on this solemn day.† We may celebrate the life of the fallen comrades, the life of the son or daughter, remember the life of the husband or wife, but I don’t think my friend Karen will be “happy” on Monday when we gather to remember her beloved son.

For those of us in the military community, we remember our friends, our family members. We remember those whose funerals we attended, the memorial services when we heard the name of the fallen called out three times.† I remember the fresh faces solemnly staring out in the pictures next to the flag-draped coffin, the families in the front row sitting in stunned silence.

The Army ďOld GuardĒ began the commemorations with the planting of flags at Arlington National Cemetery (Flags In). †Tourists in their groups see the young soldiers in their ACUs with their backpacks full of the little flags and stop to watch them measure with their booted foot against the stone. This year, it took three hours to place a flag before each stone.

There will be ceremonies at veterans cemeteries around the country and overseas and a moment of silence, the National Moment of Remembrance, at 3 pm local time. †Rolling Thunder will be roaring through DC from the Pentagon on Sunday for the 25th Anniversary of the Run and they are expecting half a million bikes.

However you remember, please take a moment to remember the real reason for Memorial Day.† As Judy Gerber asked, you can create a Memorial Garden, plant a tree in memory of those who have fallen in service to their country.† No matter your political stance, no matter your feelings about current conflicts, Memorial Day is to remember those who died, and their families.

Itís not a Happy Memorial Day.

 

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Photo used with permission of "Married to the Army"

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131 comments

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1:49AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Thanks for the truth......and bless all our troops and those who gave their lives for our freedoms!

3:56AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

The history of Humanity, if one may call it that is marked by which war was on at the moment.

3:55AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

The history of Humanity, if one may call it that is marked by which war was on at the moment.

3:49AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Ain't that the truth! From an old, disabled Vietnam vet. Instead of celebrating, try going to a VA hospital, where the price of freedom can be seen. When you depart, tell me how much like celbrating you still feel like doing, and then if you still feel like firing up the grill, go ahead and throw a little "Hamburger Hill" on it!

4:08AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Lee W, your soldiers do not protect me! Many of their actions and certainly their illegal occupations and the many illegal wars have only served to make the world we all live in a much more dangerous, unstable place.

Your military leaders (past and present) presidents (past and present) including many other heads of states plus the massive US military industrial machine only serve the following:- profit, State Sponsored Terrorism and the spread of a disastrous American foreign policy that has caused the death of 100's of thousands of innocent civilians since the end of WWII.

I am not blind to the fact that fallen soldiers leave behind loved ones. But you have to ask yourself why put on a military uniform when all the wars of the past 60+ years have had nothing to do with making our world a safer place; quite the contrary.

1:32AM PDT on May 30, 2012

@Shan D. it's called greed.

1:19AM PDT on May 30, 2012

If this is supposed to be such a solemn day, why do you allow stores to be open? Many Canadian communities close their stores until noon on Remembrance Day so people can attend the Ceremonies if they wish, and so the soldiers - both dead and alive - will not be disrespected. It would never occur to me to go shopping on that day, or do anything except watch the ceremonies from Parliament Hill and perform the Act of Remembrance.

10:20PM PDT on May 29, 2012

Great Article and I highly agree!!! You Did yourself and the rest of us PROUD Karen Francis!

10:02PM PDT on May 29, 2012

Good point in this article, I agree 100% that people shouldn't tack "Happy" on there. One of the things that disgusts me the most about today's society is the commercialism that has become associated with popular holidays, and the warping and twisting of their original meanings. I can proudly say I did not attend any Memorial Day sales.

And Martin L., I also commend you for hitting the nail right on the head. Well spoken. Many of our soldiers who have died have also killed people on the opposing side; we can't just turn a blind eye to that fact. War in general just needs to stop, period, for the sake of the human beings on both sides, which we all are. None of us get to choose where we're born, after all.

8:41PM PDT on May 29, 2012

Well Martin L, perhaps you would also like to ask the question where would Europe and your UK be if it wasn't for America and her allies in Europe during WWII or for that matter WWI. My country and its leaders have not always made the best of choices and sometimes we down-right blow it; but America hence the American people are not the tyrants you want to make us out to be. Our Founders gave us a Republic never seen before in the world; an experiment where the people are the real rulers; but the people become complacence from time to time and elect the wrong leadership and the country goes astray until a new leader is chosen to bring us back to center and those principles our Founders gave us.

America has done a lot of good in the world during her young life and hopefully we will learn from the mistakes we have made and do much better in the future. We Americans know she can; and we know she will; after all our Founders were wise enough to remind us to keeping moving towards a more perfect Union.

MAY ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THE ULTIMATE SACRIFACE REST IN PEACE.

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