“The unofficial start to summer” or the “BBQ season kick-off”. You’ve heard Memorial Day described this way for years. Supermarkets encourage you load up on hot dogs and mustard and the marketing machine dusts off the red, white and blue. Sure, the local news may dedicate a few moments to a tribute or a parade. But do we really grasp the meaning of Memorial Day? Is “Happy Memorial Day” even the right thing to say?
Let’s start over. Memorial Day is the annual remembrance of the lives and sacrifices of American soldiers killed in all battles. We need to clarify and teach the differences to our children. Veteran’s Day is for honoring and thanking those who served and are with us today. Independence Day is a celebration of the founding of our nation, of freedom, unity and liberty.
There was outrage recently with the misinterpretation of President Biden’s Proclamation on Workers Memorial Day 2021. Some news outlets and commentators interpreted this as sharing the day with fallen essential workers who died from COVID-19. This proved to be false. The administration designated April 27th as to honor those victims.
Brief History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day is for American Soldiers Killed in Battle. Period. Top-Billing. Anything less than the nation’s full attention is disrespectful. Suspend the partisan, political nonsense and pandering for one day. Let’s respect one of our best, national traditions. The practice dates to the end of the Civil War. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was dedicated to the fallen of the Civil War. Memorial Day evolved after WWI to include the fallen of all wars. It was officially tied to the last Monday in May in 1968 with the passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This took effect in 1971 and the three-day weekend was born.
A Day to Remember
Unlike Independence Day, Memorial Day is a somber day of remembrance and prayer. Rather than sparklers and fireworks, we observe Memorial Day by honoring the memory of the fallen. Rows and rows of American Flags are planted in churches, town squares, parks and cemeteries across the nation, to honor the fallen. Red Poppies are worn.* Prayers and noble words are shared. Tears are shed. Their names are spoken. They are Remembered and they Live on.
Those of us who have not lost an immediate family member may know someone who has lost a child, spouse or friend. Think of them today. Call them and share their burden. You don’t have to be a superstar like Brene Brown or come up with the perfect, magically healing words. Give them some love. Be there for them. What can we say? “We will never forget. They will never be forgotten.”
God Bless You and God Bless America. Be safe.
How will you celebrate Memorial Day 2021?
“In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.