Memorial Day – 2013

Last year on Memorial Day I was stuck in Afghanistan, and the year prior I was not blogging yet.  This year I felt compelled to add a more well-written addition to the constellation of posts I like to deviate from ranting with.

FLKS Cemetery 20130513

Fort Leavenworth Cemetery
Photo by Author

Make no mistake here: Memorial Day is not a holiday dedicated to the living.  Briefly, the holiday was created after aggregating several popular remembrance days across our nation.  Predominantly, it formalized what was known as Decoration Day, a product of the American Civil War, our most costly war in terms of lives lost.  Later, Congressional action fixed the day on the last Monday of May, shifting it from the 30th of that month.  Traditionally, one should fly the American flag at half-staff until noon to honor those who have died in the service of our country.  At noon, the flag is raised to full height, symbolically showing our collective resolve to continue fighting for liberty and freedom.

Many surviving Veterans believe that moving the holiday simply to create a long weekend has shifted the focus away from what is important – sacrifice – to other more fleeting pursuits.  Our media don’t help much here, and I expect to hear about the road-death statistics and sound bytes of angry vacationers stuck in traffic or bumped from anticipated flights.  So be it.  I personally don’t watch a lot of news and I also don’t care so much what you do this weekend because the fact that you’re free to relax this weekend and have fun is a fitting celebration of what Memorial Day is really about.

Memorial Day is about the dead.  It should be about the dead and for them.  In another post, I made a rough estimate of 1.34 million people who died in military service over the history of our country.  American blood has nourished the soil all over the world, and much of it – most of it in fact – bought freedom and liberty right here in America itself.

Bought.  There’s a word.  It summarizes what this holiday is about.  It is the notion that someone decided our ideals and way of life are worth living for and, therefore, worth dying for.  They swallowed their fear, left their loved ones and marched, sailed, rode and flew off somewhere far away.  They fought, they suffered, they killed and they died.  Many of them lie under distant lands’ soil still, a solemn reminder that Americans will not quietly submit to the will of others.  They testify in silence to the notion that we value our way of life dearly.  They prove with their own remains that we will literally give ourselves so that others might not suffer tyranny and oppression.  They bought freedom.  They paid with their lives.

I don’t get upset over the focus we have on Memorial Day.  I have always liked to think that we can go to the beach, or enjoy the backyard party, take the vacation, or have fun in the theme park precisely because those very locations and activities have long been bought and paid for.  To my mind, it makes the ice cream that much sweeter.

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47 Responses to “Memorial Day – 2013”

  1. Heard the story behind it on FOX news, hear it angered some veterans the decision by congress to move it to another date, guess it suits better for civilians and their vacations. Didn´t know about the flag, that´s interesting. You know well that you don´t go to these places swallowing your fear, some fear is always good. Keeps you on your toes, but not too much fear, and always the good old dark humour laughs which civilians can´t possibly understand. I´m becoming a history buff, should´ve become one while still in highschool.

  2. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    Great post!

  3. I’m glad you don’t think we should just lose ourselves in mourning for those veterans – after all, what they died for was not for us to sit around moaning about them being gone. But as you say, we should definitely still respect them – a lot! And this goes for all countries, the world in general – I’m Australian but I still respect the sacrifices made by soldiers all over the world, for instance Brits and Americans in World War 2.

  4. Nice post, Rants.

  5. Thanks for the post, Rants. I didn’t know some of this, either. Especially the bit about the flag.

  6. I agree with your points here! My grandfather lost all of his brothers except for one in World War II. The one brother came back “shell-shocked” & was never able to function well in regular society for the rest of his life. At family gatherings, he would shake away trying to keep his drinking in check so he could participate respectably in our family celebrations.

  7. Bought. By the courage of so many so young, but so brave.
    Well done post
    Salute to them
    Thanks for you

  8. I have no problem with celebrating the start of summer, barbecues, and if necessary, a whole slew of sales for crap we don’t need. But when a gift is given it’s only proper to thank those who gave it. For, as I quoted from Britian’s 2nd Division memorial in Kohima, india, “When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, ‘For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”.
    Those who gave the last full measure will always have my undying gratitude. Thanks for this, ‘Rants, nicely done. And thank you for your services.

  9. I remember the dead and thank the living. Great post, Rants.

  10. You have made the point so well here; this is a dedication to the dead, a carry-over from Decoration Day. Personally, I’m appalled at Memorial Day sales but the idea of enjoying a day outdoors in appreciation for the people who have died to make this possible.. I am good with that.
    Thank you Rants. For everything YOU do for all of us.

  11. I am extremely grateful to all of our service men and women. You all do something that I could never do and I thank you all.

  12. Thank you. Thank you for this. As the daughter of a tank driver in the 7th Armored in the Battle of the Bulge, I thank you for this thoughtful, informative post. Thankfully, my father came home and lived to his 70’s, but his best friend did not, and the portrait of the two of them hung on the wall by the door my whole life. His sacrifice was not taken lightly.

    I have ranted, myself, about people’s tendency to mix or merge Memorial Day with Veterans’ Day, and I try to remind people what this holiday is about. I appreciate the history and flag protocol. I thank you for the respectful acknowledgement of the meaning of the day, with the understanding that our ‘day off’ was paid in sweat and blood.

    And thank you, personally, for your service to our country. I rest easier at night knowing there are folks like you out there. I am a proud patriot and a grateful citizen, and I will shake your hand if I ever meet you.

    I’m glad to have found you (through Le Clown, actually) and I am enjoying your blog. I wanted to say something humorous, but it just didn’t seem right. There will be time for that later.

    • First, God bless your father for his service. Second, you are more than welcome. Last, thank you for reading me and taking the time to comment. I truly appreciate that, and your personal story… it is valuable and relevant. Make sure people know it!

  13. You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation however I in finding this topic to be actually one
    thing that I think I might by no means understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I am taking a look ahead to your next submit, I’ll try to get the hold of it!

    • Based on your syntax and awkwardness, I think you’re a bot. Go bother Erickson, please. In case you’re not, comment again, and use normal English. Thanks, Rants.

  14. […] ranted before about Memorial Day on this blog in a post here and another one here.  I wanted to do another this year, but I don’t like to recycle posts and there’s only […]

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