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.


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.

5th Tuesday of Lent

Brother against brother.


civil war flags150 years ago Americans took up arms against one another and began one of the darkest periods in our history; the Civil War.  A strange name, really.  What could be less civil than a conflict that divides a country.

Here in Missouri the war was particularly uncivil as the state was divided between northern and southern sympathizers. Remnants of the division still exist today.  Our city police department is under control of the state government because, during the war, Saint Louis was a Union city in a Confederate state.  The governor didn’t want Saint Louis police to be used in support of the northern cause and passed a law taking control of our local force.  That arrangement still exists today.

But, I digress.

There have always been divisions in society and I’m not sure that this nation isn’t more divided today than it was in 1861.  Thanks be to God, we haven’t taken up arms against one another (yet).

The answers to our troubles, in the 19th century and the 21st, lies with one person.  Or should I say three persons?  With God, nothing is impossible.  We Catholics must take the lead in prayer.  We can be an example for others of what it takes to put the ship of state back on course.

If you aren’t already, please include peace within our borders in your daily prayers.  The last thing we want to see is another “civil” war.