Sunday, May 27, 2007

What Memorial Day means to me

Sad to say, Memorial Day is simply yet another holiday to me, not unlike Labor Day or the Fourth of July. While there was some original intention for these holidays, the meaning simply isn't there for me. I do sincerely wish that I could say that these holidays had more meaning for me, but they don't.

Frankly, I can never remember exactly who or what we are supposed to be memorializing on Memorial Day. I vaguely recall some military-oriented parades when I was young, but to me a parade is a parade and the meaning is usually irrelevant other than as an excuse to... parade.

I consulted the Wikipedia article for Memorial Day and it tells me the following:

It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911.

Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 pm Washington time. Another tradition is to fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers place a U.S. Flag upon each gravesite located in a National Cemetery.

In addition to remembrance, Memorial Day is also a time for picnics, family gatherings, and sporting events. Some Americans view Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer and Labor Day as the unofficial end of the season. The national Click it or ticket campaign ramps up beginning Memorial Day weekend, noting the beginning of the most dangerous season for auto accidents and other safety related incidents. The USAF "101 Critical days of summer" also begin on this day as well. Some Americans use Memorial Day to also honor any family members who have died, not just servicemen.

One difficulty I have is that with all the insanity related to abusively deploying U.S. forces for misguided missions such as Vietnam and Iraq and the whole so-called "Global War On Terror", it is rather difficult for me to focus on simply memorializing lives that may have needlessly been thrown away due to incredibly bad policies of our own government. Yes, we do want to memorialize lives that were lost, but not at the expense of glorifying the flawed processes which caused those lives to be lost in the first place.

Maybe we need a Memorial Day dedicated to the loss of truth, sanity, and reason.

-- Jack Krupansky

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