Memorial Day–a day that triggers different thoughts and feelings. Also, a day that, hopefully, gives us pause and at least some moments of reflection. For a while this year, I thought an added feature would be a day of argument.
There are some folks who want to clarify the purposes of holidays–they are most noticeable on social media, often posted as a meme (a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea). I saw one this morning suggesting we should understand there are three related holidays:
- Armed Forces Day (third Saturday in May) to pay tribute to those serving.
- Memorial Day (fourth Monday in May) to pay tribute to who died in active military service.
- Veterans’ Day (November 11) to pay tribute to those have served in the Armed Forces.
So it becomes arguable that there are three different days for three different populations. And the minute something becomes arguable, folks on Facebook are on it.
I value accuracy, but I’m not joining the debate.
I heard a conversation during which one person pointed out that Memorial Day was not a day to thank those currently serving. His listener replied, “Is it possible to thank those who have served or are serving too much?”
I don’t think so.
As a child, I remember visiting my Grandfather’s grave with my Dad this time of year. There were actually several trips involved as the flag holder was cleaned and painted, the stone cleaned, flowers planted… and we were often not alone as others performed similar tasks in anticipation of parades and visits to honor and remember. No one pointed out that Grandfather did not die in active military service and then suggest it was not appropriate to honor him on Memorial Day. I’m not sure if it was because the memories were fresher or because we just didn’t argue so much back then.
George Patton said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” Perhaps that is where we might stand this Memorial Day, recognizing and honoring the lives of those who served and died, who served and lived, and those who are serving are lives to be honored and not forgotten.