Monday, 28 May 2007

Happy” Memorial Day?

Today we stopped by a local mall. The missus needed to make a return of some merchandise to Nordstrom, and we took in lunch as well. While waiting for a table at our eatery of choice, I caught the end of a conversation where an unidentified woman told her equally unidentifiable conversation partner, “Happy Memorial Day.” in closing.

Happy Memorial Day?

Are you serious?

There was a time in this country when Memorial Day was treated with the solemn respect it deserves. When businesses actually closed for the day (as was Costco, we learned, when we stopped to fill up the gas tank), instead of having Memorial Day Weekend Sales™. (The irony of my making this statement while having engaged in a small bit of consumerism on this day is not lost on me.)

People made efforts to remember those who have fallen in service to our nation, for this is not a “holiday”, but rather a day of mourning. It is sad that so many have had to give their lives in the cause of freedom, and we should be graciously thankful those who have died were willing to make the sacrifice in our stead. They deserve our utmost respect, which does not translate to saving a few bucks on jeans and cosmetics.

Notably, they are not deserving of someone wishing another a “Happy” Memorial Day, for the occasion is not one of happiness but remembrance. How many of us even pause for a moment’s reflection today? How many of us participate in any sort of remembrance ceremony, rain or shine, today? How many of us set aside time to go to a local cemetery and clean the grave sites of fallen servicemen, to lay flowers and plant flags?

We, fellow countrymen, owe a debt that we can never repay, yet it is a debt we should nonetheless honor. You may feel otherwise, but I can’t help but feel that said honor does not come from shopping and failing to acknowledge, even in passing, what this day truly is about. It comes from remembering the fallen, honoring their memories, praying for their families and sharing in their grief at having lost their beloved so young. Because so many of those lost are young. Such has it always been, and such it is likely to always be.

War is a terrible, terrible thing. Yet it is often a necessary thing, and we should be thankful there are those willing to fight, and to die. Remember our men and women who have given their lives. Offer a prayer of thanks, if you are the praying sort. Treat this day with the solemnness it deserves.

The Chance To Say Goodbye

I did not get the chance to say goodbye
To shake his hand, look him in the eye
To offer for his service my thanks
For what he did on the Rhine’s banks

Or in Hue city, Berlin, or Khe Sanh
Paris, Baghdad, Iwo Jima, Okinawa
Tripoli, Italy, the Belleau Wood
Croatia, Chosin, or the skies above

Or in the waters deep, or atop the oceans’ waves
Slinging missiles, marking the Unknowns’ graves
Delivering the mail to a far-out firebase
Medevacing out those with injuries of the worst case

I did not get the chance to say goodbye
To shake his hand, look him in the eye
To offer for his service my thanks
For now all I have are these words in this place

—Christopher Turner, 27 March 2007

posted on May 28, 2007 5:55 PM




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