Happy (?) Memorial Day

American Flag

Over the weekend I heard someone wish another person “Happy Memorial Day”.  The other person called them out on their greeting saying it was inappropriate for a day set aside to remember our fallen military.  I agree.  There is nothing “happy” about losing one’s life for one’s country.  Brave–yes.  Honorable–most certainly.  But happy–I don’t think so.

Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) was a state holiday to commemorate those lost in the Civil War.  During World War I, it was decided to honor those who lost their lives in all war.

In 1968, the federal government, in their infinite wisdom, declared Memorial Day to be a federal holiday and moved it to the last Monday in May, effective 1971.  This change meant that the day we were supposed to remember our war dead became a three-day weekend for government workers.

Memorial Day became “Open the pool day”, and “put the boat in the lake day”, and take the kids to Six Flags day”.  It became the first day of summer.  The day set aside as a memorial has become just another summer holiday, a day when we wish someone is “happy”.

I’ll be the first to admit that I managed to avoid the draft during the Viet Nam War.  I had a medical deferment.  I considered myself very lucky.  But, as the years have passed, I believe serving my country would have been good for me.  But, you can’t go back and they certainly don’t want me now.  So today, I go out of my way to thank anyone I see in uniform.  My small parish, Saint Bernadette, is located adjacent to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  I make sure we include a petition for our military men and women at every mass.

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Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

So, on this Memorial Day, please remember what it’s for.  Enjoy your picnic or your family get-together but take time to remember all the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice so you can enjoy this day of freedom.

God bless the men and women who have died so that we might be free.

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