Monday, May 30, 2016

I'm never saying "Happy Memorial Day" again.

"Happy Memorial Day"...I never realized just how stupid this phrase is until this year. Stupid and...just plain wrong.

It seems natural. A holiday comes, and people celebrate it. That's how it works, right? Especially in this country, where we seem to have a holiday for every little trivial thing you can imagine.

Memorial Day, in recent years at least, means a day off of work or school, an excuse to go to the beach and relax, and, if you're in the south, one heck of a barbecue. I won't deny, that sounds pretty happy to me.

But people, myself included, got so caught up in those aspects that we forgot what this holiday was originally started to signify.

(Side note: Please PLEASE learn the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.)

Memorial Day is about the people whom these flags represent. It's about all the servicemen and women who gave their lives so that we could go to the beach and have a barbecue without being scared for our lives. The countless soldiers who loved this country enough to give their lives for a future they wouldn't get to see.

My grandpa got to come home from war. Too many others didn't. And their sacrifices are too easily boxed into this one day a year that has become more about food and fun and relaxation than it is about reflecting on those who laid on a battlefield dying, who had their last moments on earth be shrouded in the greater picture of a war in which they were just one of thousands or millions fighting.

The bloodstained ground can be made clean with the rain, but the memory of those who gave everything can't be washed away, at least not for the people who miss them. We get to live in the "happy" of Memorial Day when there are people all across the country in mourning for those who never got to come to see another holiday. How screwed up is that?

May we remember today and every day that we have the good life we do in this country because of the people who believed in America enough to die for it. And if we're going to only take one day a year to reflect on the sacrifice that it means to literally lay down your life for your country, let's make it the day on which it the reflection was intended to happen.

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