Memorial Day 2010

Yesterday, I heard–on a local TV newscast, I think–someone say “Happy Memorial Day.”

No. Wrong.

The intent of Memorial Day is to be a day of memory–specifically, remembering those who wear the uniform of the United States, who have fought and died to defend this country.

Now, in certain circles, this is not a politically correct thought. It is uncomfortable to recognize that our liberties require at times an active, violent defense–a defense which often has an extremely high cost. It certainly is inconvenient at least to think of such things, as people rush back and forth between the big 2-Day Sale to the family barbecue at the lake.

It’s a specific case of one of the most widespread and corrosive problems our society has today.


So take five minutes, go somewhere quiet, sit down, and think about your freedom to do that very thing, and think about how that freedom came about.

Most people throughout history have not even had that simple freedom to take a few minutes to themselves. Most people have had to get up in the morning, work hard, backbreaking, physical labor from sunrise to sunset, somehow manage to eat and drink enough to keep them alive, and then go to sleep with little more hope than to get through the next day of toil and pain. Sitting and contemplating their freedoms would be an absurd impossibility for much of humanity over most of our history.

And there you sit, well-fed, well-clothed, comfortable and safe, secure in your self-absorption on this “traditional first weekend of summer.”

Think long and hard about how you came have the freedom to ignore the real meaning of Memorial Day.

And, if you’re one of those who have worn the uniform that secures our freedom and liberty, or if you are the family member or friend of one who has been wounded or has died in the service of this country, you have my solemn sympathy, respect, gratitude, and love. Be well.

UPDATE: Even The Heritage Foundation[*1] has succumbed to the corrosive “Happy Memorial Day” saying. I still assert it is properly a day of reflection, a day of gratitude–and for some, a day of deep emotional pain. I think cavalierly chirping “Happy Memorial Day” on this day seriously demeans the sacrifices of those who have given the “last full measure of their devotion.” “Happy New Year,” yes. “Happy Halloween?” Sure. “Happy Christmas?” Certainly, if you’re British or an Anglophile. “Happy Martin Luther King Day?” I can even see that. Even “Happy Veteran’s Day” can work–you’re honoring veterans who are still alive on that day, after all. But “Happy Memorial Day?” There’s some serious emotional/cognitive dissonance going on there, in my opinion.

Yeah, I’m a curmudgeon. Always have been, really.