Memorial Day, observed in the last Monday in May, is a holiday that few Americans know anything about. It is comfortably nestled amongst the “BBQ and Firecracker” holidays. Not that it was designed for such classification, but it has been placed there by an American generation consisting of some individuals that are either actively anti-tradition and values, uneducated concerning American history, sees no need for such a holiday, or just plain glad to get the day off. In fact, in this country, what is becoming increasing evident is that patriotism functions much like a basketball, rising high after hitting a hard surface. That hard surface, for the last ten years, seems to have been terrorism and natural disasters. Nothing gets America more excited about itself then when it is touched by people or situations that can contribute to its demise.
Well, what exactly is Memorial Day about? Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is linked to General John A. Logan and several post-Civil War cities. General Logan, who was at the time a part of a Civil War veterans group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, wanted to honor the men that fought in the civil war. On May 5, 1868 he issued “General Order no. 11,” which called for the May 30th honoring and decoration of Civil War soldiers’ graves.
Logan’s idea was not unique. Decoration Day had already taken place since the war ended by many who wished to honor the dead. In fact, the founding of the day is attributed to Waterloo–which is believed to have been celebrating it since May 5, 1866–by President Johnson’s administration in 1966, because it was the town that was considered foremost in its celebration of the holiday. Memorial Day became official in 1971 when Congress declared it a national holiday to honor all of America’s fallen soldiers (to read more: History Channel).
Though there are many televised services, Americans, in general, are not really concerned with the essence of the day. The thought-provoking question that stirs their noggins is, “Who’s having a BBQ today?” It is a military holiday in which respect is shown for those who sacrificed their lives for the country, in theory. However, it is a family and friends’ socializing-fest, in practice (for most, me included). Shall the twain meet? They have. Should they? That’s up for debate.
Personally, the decoration of graves is not appealing. However, the remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives for a nation should be commemorated by that nation and the citizens of that nation. Of course, there are always exceptions. Perhaps an individual’s religion or personal belief forbids taking part in such a commemoration. That individual should be allowed to uphold those values and beliefs with dignity. America is not a totalitarian state. What do you think?
Memorial Day and all other warm weather related holidays will always be engulfed in scents of burgers, hotdogs, and lighted firecrackers. There will always be a jovial host drawing out smiles and laughter from the beef-filled masses. Whether we like it or not, this is America and this aspect of it will not change.