Before you break out the barbecue or grab your baseball glove this Memorial Day, take a moment to consider what’s behind this “most solemn of American holidays” – and the cost. Like:
A lot of people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They are not the same.
While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. The November holiday largely focuses on thanking living veterans for their service, and underscoring the fact that all who’ve served have sacrificed and done their duty. It is a day for thanks and appreciation.
Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. It is “the most solemn” of American holidays.
While we’re at it, can we please lose the “Happy Memorial Day” thing? There are plenty of events or occasions wherein “happy” is a perfectly acceptable adjective: Happy Easter. Happy Independence Day. Happy birthday. But “Happy” Memorial Day? That’s like saying “happy funeral.” Frankly, that’s just stupid. Not to mention galactically insensitive, especially to families whose loved one(s) made the ultimate sacrifice.
So fire up that grill. Grab that glove, kite, or second ice cream cone. Take in a concert. Hug your kids. Welcome summer. When you do, be sure to take a few moments to reflect on the high cost that’s been paid to secure your freedom and liberty. While you’re at it, find a veteran and thank him or her for his/her service. Do both with respect.
This post originally appeared in my other blog in 2016.