Monday, May 29, 2017

Thoughts on the Observation of Memorial Day

           Memorial Day is the time to honor all those Americans who died in service to the United States for their independence and liberty. 

            As I have posted in previous years, Memorial Day often gets conflated with Veterans Day, which is the holiday to honor all veterans, living or dead, particularly those who did not die in service.  Note: Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated the Saturday a week before Memorial Day, honors active duty servicemen. 

And as I have also posted, Memorial Day is not a day of celebration, but a solemn commemoration of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for America.  Alas, the day has become for too many Americans a festive occasion, as people wish each other “Happy Memorial Day” and use the three-day weekend in late Spring which has become traditionally regarded as the “unofficial start of Summer” to picnic and engage in other recreational activities, instead of setting aside the day as one of mourning, albeit in gratitude to those who gave their lives for the U.S.

Memorial Day has been observed in late May since after the end of the Civil War, while Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11.  That date formerly was Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of the First World War.  The difference between observing a holiday on the last Monday in May versus a fixed date is that between a three-day weekend versus a holiday that may occur on a weekday in the middle of the workweek, which makes the latter less conducive to travel and recreation.  Furthermore, the observation of Memorial Day in late Spring is more conducive to a more festive occasion than a holiday observed in mid-Autumn. 

I propose switching the observation of Memorial Day with that of Veterans Day.  As Veterans Day honors living veterans, it should be a more festive occasion and could be celebrated accordingly on a three-day weekend in late Spring, whereas Memorial Day ought to be more solemnly observed on mid-Autumn at a fixed date less conducive to festiveness, as it may occur at mid-week.  Late May is as appropriate a time as any to honor veterans while November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War, is a particularly appropriate time to commemorate those who died in service.  Switching the observation of these two holidays would allow for their observation to be more patriotic and appropriate than they are currently observed.  

May we recall today especially the sacrifice of those who died for America and strive every day to preserve the independence and liberty that is their legacy.  May God bless America.

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