Because these types of holidays have been co-opted by commercialism – who wouldn’t want to buy a new mattress of a new car because, well, we just have to have a Memorial Day Sales, the meaning of the day has been destroyed. Memorial Day has become the timetable benchmark for the beginning of summer and is marked by cook-outs, get-togethers, and vacations. These “happy” and self-serving events – minus those executed with reverence for those who have fallen – betray the meaning of the day.
Memorial Day is reserved (or at least it is supposed to be) for the remembrance of those who have died on the fields of battle in the service to our country. It is not about the red of the barbeque sauce, it is about the red of the blood that poured from the bodies of patriots fallen in the defense of our freedoms and the liberations of the oppressed.
On Veteran’s Day, which happens to mark the unofficial end of summer (and which has been commercialized beyond my comfort zone as well), it is correct to walk up and thank a Veteran for his or her service to our nation. But on Memorial Day it is appropriate to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have died in our service and the families who have been directly affected by their deaths.
Memorial Day is about reverence and reflection; appreciation and humility, not light-hearted celebration and commercialism. Thankfully, I live in a military community where the gatherings today will be centered on that reverence. I truly wish everyone could experience the respect and thoughtful behavior I will be engaging in today. Maybe if we all experienced such reverence we would take our military and our country for granted, such as we do.