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Memorial Day 2021

Jason Perry

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I hope everyone has a Happy Memorial Day that includes honoring and reflecting on those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our Nation.

I have struggled at times with how we, as a Nation, observe this day. This is more so as to how those who have little connection to military service observe this day. But, the thing that has troubled me is the phrase "Happy Memorial Day." The day is meant to honor the service of the military members who have fallen in defense of our great Nation. This is from the VA's website:

"Memorial Day
THE MUFFLED drum's sad roll has beat The soldier's last tattoo; No more on Life's parade shall meet That brave and fallen few. On Fame's eternal camping-ground 5 Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead.

Bivouac Of The Dead, by Theodore O'Hara

Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service. In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time." VA.gov | Veterans Affairs

So, it always seems odd and a bit off to say, as so many do, to have a "Happy Memorial Day." To be clear, I have said or written that many times. "Happy Memorial Day." I have written about this before. My thought is that those who have fallen would likely want us to have a happy day. Their sacrifice was, in part (at least in my view), so that we who live can enjoy a holiday. It is not about grilling burgers, having a day off of work, or time to do whatever (golf, fish, watch sports, or the like). But, that does not mean that the enjoyment of the fruits of the sacrifices of the fallen should not also be solemnly honored. Many of us have felt the sting of the loss of brothers and sisters who died in service. I think that there might be a lack of a proper word in the English language to express that idea- the enjoyment of a day given by the ultimate sacrifice of military members that is meant to honor their service. How do you reconcile somber reflection and grief for the loss with enjoying the fruits of their sacrifices.

I am not sure that the proper words exist. But, I have an idea. DO have a Happy Memorial Day. But also DO reflect and HONOR the sacrifices of those who made that joy and happiness possible. Take a moment, at least, and reflect on their service. Then, for the rest of the year, continue to HONOR their sacrifice by making the Nation and our world a better place. That would be the best way to observe Memorial Day.
 
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