Happy Memorial Day?

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Yesterday was Memorial Day. And while I certainly enjoyed my time with family and friends who were enjoying a three day weekend, I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about what this day is really about.

I heard numerous times on television the phrase ” Happy Memorial Day!” I read the same sentiments across multiple social media forums, online newspapers, and even on radio ads. And every time I heard it it made me really stop and think.

Is this day really happy?

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I don’t really think so. I think this day is a bit of a conundrum (and I think a lot of people misunderstand what this day is really “celebrating”). For me, Memorial Day isn’t as much about a celebration, though we do spend the weekend at the lake eating good food and taking boat rides, as it is about pausing to remember the more than 600,000 soldiers who have given their lives serving this nation. Sacrificed their existence so we are safe and free to continue ours.

When I think about the families of those we are honoring on this day, my heart explodes with compassion and gratitude. For many forget that those left behind continue to pay the price of their soldier’s sacrifice everyday. They must continue to “soldier on” in the face of grief, sorrow, anger, resent, hopelessness and fear everyday.

So while yes, I did indeed have a happy weekend, I never stopped remembering why yesterday was such an important day.

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And with that, I say one final thing;

Thank you to every soldier who sacrificed their life so that I could continue to live mine freely. Thank you to every soldier who never made it home. Thank you to every soldier whose family is one member less. And thank you to the families of those who fell, for your sacrifice is worth the same gratitude.

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4 thoughts on “Happy Memorial Day?

  1. I agree it is not a Happy day and I’ve always been concerned about who cashiers and others are saying “Happy Memorial Day” to, did that person lose someone in a conflict? Maybe very recently, by that I mean within the past year or so. How happy are they? But then I’m from Europe where one observes such days, they don’t celebrate them. Have a picnic or whatever, but don’t call it a celebration.

    I continually tell my co-workers when they use that phrase, “No it’s not a happy day. It’s a day to remember and to be grateful to those that risked/laid down their lives for the benefit of all”.

    • Exactly. I think it’s an important day in the year and I love that people know about it, but I feel like we’re sort of missing the point about the day. It’s not just a three day weekend, packed with super sales, burgers, beers, boats and camping. For some people it’s a very painful reminder about the fact that someone they love dearly is not there anymore. And that is anything but ‘happy’.

      Thanks for commenting, and for spreading awareness among your co-workers. (:

  2. Beautifully put, Arianna! Totally agree with you, and have never been one to use Memorial Day as an excuse to overindulge and act the fool. It’s an important day that should be held in a different light.

    • Thank you. Every Memorial Day I feel so thankful that I’m not honoring the memory of my brother. I am so thankful that I get to honor him as a veteran and not as a memory. But I am eternally grateful to those who sacrificed their existence for this country. And eternally indebted to their families. I will never know or understand how painful Memorial Day (and everyday) is for them. I try to always keep that in mind.

      This is the message I sent my bro on Monday: “I’d say happy memorial day, but really, this day isn’t very happy at all is it? So instead I’ll tell you this: thank you for serving our country. Thank you for volunteering to sacrifice a “normal” life so I have the right to have one. Thank you for going to the hottest shitholes on the planet to fight people who don’t understand a word you’re saying. And, most of all, thank you for coming home alive both times so that this day isn’t the most unhappy day of my year.”

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