A Day to Remember


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What, precisely, do we remember on Memorial Day?

We don’t recall that it was observed on May 30 (and not the last Monday of the month) until 1971 or that it was originally called Decoration Day. That holiday’s name described the day’s holy activity, decorating the resting places of men who had paid the ultimate sacrifice to state and nation. And in the process of honoring sacred ground one couldn’t help but reflect upon their service, to memorialize as Decoration Day’s Memorial Day successor calls for in its name.

In the same way that “Decoration Day” conveys something very specific, “Memorial Day” announces its generic blahness. When we hear “Memorial Bridge,” “Memorial Stadium,” or “Memorial Boulevard,” we’re not even likely to wonder, “Memorial to whom?” Memorial Day fits this pattern. The blandness is hardly unique to the holiday more evocative of the Indy 500 than the Union 360,000. Armistice Day becomes Veterans Day. Independence Day becomes the Fourth of July. Washington’s Birthday becomes Presidents Day. Like clichés and euphemisms, the replacement names dull thoughts rather than provoke them. Stripped of meaning, Memorial Day makes us forget what we are remembering.

The Southern ladies and freed slaves who paid tribute to the Civil War’s dead generally did so without any preexisting relationship with the slain soldiers. With hospitals and battlefields far from home, final resting places often were, too. Iraq and Afghanistan aside, the nation’s war dead are now chronologically far from home. That distance won’t stop the grateful few who visit cemeteries today to decorate the graves of veterans they had never met. Memorial Day is about making connections with people with whom one has no direct connection.

The holiday’s date and name have changed. But the spirit of gratitude and respect that motivated the first Memorial Day remains, even if among only a remnant. Traditions are harder to kill then men on the battlefield.

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  • oldtimer

    I think every potential president should have to serve in the military.

    • Lorben

      Yep….a typical oldtimer would think that! I am with you and am just a middle timer.

  • Amused

    I'd rather see to it that any potential president should had to have actually WORKED for a living by the sweat of his brow . Looking back over the long list of US presidents , how many were in the military ? How many were silvers spoon fed millionaires ?

    • oldtimer

      The only presidents since WWII that were not vets are Obama and Clinton. One of the most beloved presidents was both a silver spoon fed millionare and decorated veteran, JFK…

      • Amused

        …and BEFORE WW2 oldtimer ? Count'em

  • Amused

    But aside from that , woke up before sunrise to lower Old Glory to half-mast , {i fly the colors 24/7/365 with appropriate lighting } and will wait till Noon , raise her to full mast ,THEN fire up the barbie and celebrate the memory of all of the fallen in service to tyhis Great Country .

    Have a Great Memorial Day to All .

    • Ramon

      & TO YOU TOO its great to be an American—just remember every serviceman or woman who served and who is serving every Day-great every Vet with a smile….

    • mrbean

      I bet you lowered your flag to half mast for the death of crackhead Whitney Houston case dah Prez Obama beez a fan uf dah sista Yassah!

      • Amused

        mrbean how did you become such an asssshole ? Did your Mama drop you on your head ? Or maybe its just a matter of , the fruit not falling too far from the tree eh ?

    • oldtimer

      my idea of celebrating, is visiting VA hospital and firing up the BQ at the American Legion, feeding homeless vets.

  • H&R_ Barack

    Having B. HUSSEIN Obama, whom hates the USA, and is actively attempting to eviscerate & dismantle her;

    ……. lay a holy wreath at theTomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery is an obscenity.

    • Amused

      Go get a room with mrbean .

  • Fred Dawes

    I remember the old Army it was no fun. Obama Hates this country he hates the people he is our darkness and is total evildoer. But so is Mitt and all his kind.
    By the way all you put down here is picked up by NSA?CIA/FBI, Read the news.

  • StephenD

    “Armistice Day becomes Veterans Day. Independence Day becomes the Fourth of July. Washington’s Birthday becomes Presidents Day. Like clichés and euphemisms, the replacement names dull thoughts rather than provoke them. Stripped of meaning, Memorial Day makes us forget what we are remembering.”

    And Fort Hood becomes “Workplace Violence”, Little Rock recruiting station shooting becomes a “Drive By”, Jihad becomes “A Personal Struggle”, and Terrorism becomes “Man-made Disasters.” Leftist Elitists become “Liberal”, and would be Kings become "Our Next Best Hope."

    The coup-de-grace, A Socialist, Anti-American, Islamic Operative becomes "President of the United States."

  • Amused

    There's room in there with mrbean and H&R_Barack , you could be a "threesome " .