A Gentle Reminder
Here on the conservative side of the aisle we tend to be more locked in to what Memorial Day is all about so I will admit up front that I’m preaching to the choir. Still, I felt the urge to write about this today.
I’m not one of those people who is forever railing against the commercialization of things or condemning the shallow consumer nature of modern life in the Western world. I am the shallow consumer much of the time. And yes, what secular people have done to Christmas does still get to me but I know I can’t do anything about it other than attend to my own spiritual life each year during Advent.
Memorial Day is always a tricky business in today’s throwaway, who-cares-about-anything society. We’ve all cringed when someone says “Happy Memorial Day!” It happens so frequently that I keep pondering whether the people saying it have forgotten what Memorial Day is all about or whether they ever knew in the first place.
There are a lot of people who still confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day. Again though, why the ignorance? Are the names of each not descriptive enough?
I think part of the problem is that any three day weekend here in the U.S. gets referred to as a “holiday.” Holiday has a pleasant connotation. It is confusing and and a rather inappropriate association for Memorial Day. A “National Day of Mourning” would be more apropos but that phrase is associated with the recently departed. I know that this is all just semantics but I think we can agree that semantics are a small part of the problem.
One also has to ponder just how much the last couple of generations of public school kids have been taught about the horrors of war that secured and keep our freedoms. Curricula are filled with plenty of climate propaganda but how much is seriously devoted to the American Civil War or WWI? I’d wager that modern academics who still teach kids about WWII do so grudgingly. Most of them, anyway.
The commercialization is what really nags at me though. It’s difficult to get our short-attention span brains to focus on the solemnity of the day while everyone is awash in ads that gleefully tout Memorial Day sales. These ads are bursting with red, white, and blue patriotism, giving them a sort of joyful Independence Day feel. That’s a problem.
I am an avowed capitalist, so I’m certainly not going to advocate for businesses to voluntarily try and not make money for a day or two. It would be nice if they did for this day, but it ain’t happening. I’m so old I remember when businesses were closed on Christmas day.
How’s that working out now?
I’m going to do the only thing I can do, which is make it a point to be personally reflective on Memorial Day and make sure that I never forget what it’s about. Say a few extra prayers. Read some history. Contemplate a sacrifice that is unfathomable for those of us who haven’t had to make it but deserves solemn contemplation anyway. Use my platform to write about it.
Remember and be grateful.