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Monday, May 31, 2010

WHAT THE HECK IS MEMORIAL DAY??

Now that Memorial Day is almost over I finally started thinking about what Memorial Day stands for in the U.S. If you know -- fine-- I am not going to talk much about the definition. I am going to talk about what went through my head on this, holiday! Hey, didn't many of our employed work force just get a three day holiday because of Memorial Day -- as well as the students that are still in school before their summer break. Holiday is defined as a time of pleasure. Yes, it's holiday time -- get out the barbecue paraphernalia, RV, jet skies and party down. Hmm -- so this is what it means to many Americans -- fun and games. Well yes, according to part of the Wikipedia definition, Memorial Day is now traditionally the beginning of the summer recreational season!

Now I detest war -- to let you know where I stand. I am not coming down on the true meaning of Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it once was called before the Uniform Holiday Act combined the day with a weekend so we could celebrate it with three days of pleasure, right? If the holiday is for the soldiers that gave their life for the country why don't we acknowledge it in an honorable way.

Wouldn't my great uncle be surprised to know that his death in WWI is celebrated with picnics, rowdiness, boastfulness by politicians, crammed highways, and little honest acknowledgment of the true meaning of the day. Are we a country of hypocrites?

OK, I will lighten up a bit and turn to the guys in the following youtube that have patriotism all wrapped up in a nutshell -- the Muppets.

10 comments:

  1. We have ANZAC Day here in Oz; it's a public holiday, too, and although we hold formal marches/parades for returned veterans and their families to show their respect for those who didn't return, it's becoming a social holiday for many who have no ties to the day.

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  2. Well, here in Canada we have Victoria Day and celebrate the birthday of a long-dead British monarch!

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  3. Barbara,

    Wonderful post. One thing I kept hearing all day, yesterday, was "Happy" Memorial Day. Even on TV--from the local car dealer! I know it's reflexive, but so out of touch with the reason for Memorial Day. Should anyone be "happy" on Memorial Day? On the other hand, without meaning to step on anyone's toes or diminish, in any way, the commemoration of "sacrifice" which this holiday represents, it should, I think, give pause for the fact that at the base of it all...we are "celebrating" violence. Violence begets violence. I've never been able to figure out how anyone can believe that killing other human beings--people you don't know,and never will, who themselves have loved ones, families, children, principles, beliefs, etc. solves problems. We need to come out of this antiquated and barbaric approach to relationships and start exploring, sharing, and understanding. This is 2010!

    Elora

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  4. Jayne, I did research your ANZAC day. I found that dawn ceremonies are held in virtually every suburb and town in Australia and New Zealand on ANZAC Day which is April 25th of each year. It appeared to me that ANZAC Day is well respected for the true meaning of its intent -- those soldiers that have died in service. Your post indicates that the latter tradition still holds however there are some changes occurring with some of the population. It seems that OZ honors the day with reverence -- barbara

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  5. barefootheart, Well in the U.S. we celebrate Presidnts Day which is made up of Presidents that have passed away long ago. I suppose that is the closest equivalent we have to your Victoria Day. Although, in the U.S. most folks don't even know it is President's Day unless they go to the bank or the post office as those institutions are closed on that day. Not much else is honored on that day. -- barbara

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  6. Elora, yes, I am glad that you put it out there -- that we are celebrating violence. What about recognizing all the populations that lived or now live in the war torn areas. Do we hide the injustices they suffer to wax war more efficiently. I did not know they were using the phrase -- "Happy Memorial Day." What an oxymoron!
    I don't have a TV so I miss a lot of that junk stuff. -- barbara

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  7. About a year ago, I noticed the phrase "Happy Anzac Day" creeping in as a media catchphrase. They tried it out, but happily it didn't catch on. Recently, there has been some debate here over the relevance of the ceremonies, and somber parades to a 21C Australia. This appears to be co-inciding with the gradual disappearance of the WW2 veterans, as Jayne inferred above.

    Anzac Day to me is akin to a funeral service. I can see how the military aspect can be upsetting to watch, actually it upsets me too, but I do not want people to forget the tragedy of war for all of the people involved.

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  8. And sales! All the Big Box retailers feature Memorial Day sales. A great way to commemorate those who died defending our right to consume far more than our share of the earth's resources.

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  9. LiD, Perhaps if folks here in the U.S. were exposed to something more akin to a funeral service on Memorial Day they would think twice about their love affair with war. Not that everyone likes war but it appears to me that many politicians do and if more citizens stepped up to the plate we could avoid it. But now that I think about it --- the regular citizens did step up and protest before we went to war with Iraq and the politicians did not listen. --- barbara

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  10. Vicki, Yes, another stupid way to honor our fallen -- promote consumerism in their name! Everything about Memorial Day gets ridiculous the more I hear and read.-- barbara

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