Today is Memorial Day, a day originally known as Decoration Day. A day meant to remember those who sacrificed their lives while serving in our country’s military. Memorial Day carries increased importance as we are involved in two separate wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of us have been connected to someone who has lost their life in one of these wars. Additionally, we still remember those from our past wars, such as WWII, Vietnam, and even the terrorist attacks on the USS Cole or the attacks of 9/11, just to name a few.
Today, I will take my time to pay my respects and thank the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. How many others will do so? A debate that has come to light is the effectiveness of the holiday. Whether having it always on the final Monday of May creates the effect desired for a memorial or day of remembrance. Many think it has just become a three day weekend for those who are just excited to be off of work and kick start their summers. A major impact of the lost interest has come from the commercial industry and disrespectful protestors that have shown little respect for our brave soldiers.
Memorial Day was traditionally recognized on May 30th. However, in the early 1970’s it was changed to provide convenience and allow for the three day weekend. While many observe, and at least pay their respects with a moment of silence or reflection, most take advantage of the three day weekend of nice weather to head to the beach or throw wild parties. Others take advantage of huge sales, or extra time to catch up on rest.
A major reason Memorial Day has lost significance is from the impact the commercial industry has had on the holiday. The industry has been able to convert the weekend into a slew of kickoff sales to boost revenues heading into the summer months. You can view on any TV channel many commercials for blowout sales, big extravaganzas that you must attend to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend like it is one huge block party and everyone is invited.
The weekend is treated like July 4th and Labor Day celebrations. What consumers don’t know is this is a major weekend to push out old inventory that could not be sold over the winter holiday season. Do any of these businesses show any true respect in their commercials for our fallen heroes?
The last impact to the holiday bothers me the most. Since Memorial Day is about the military, many who protest war and violence choose this as a time to voice their displeasures. There is nothing wrong with using the freedom of speech we are all entitled to, as long as it is still used respectfully. No one says we can’t voice any displeasure for a war and the impact it has had on lives lost and the financial impacts they have.
Besides those who wish to party this weekend, even protestors have lost respect for our fallen heroes. Without the sacrifice of past wars, we would not have the freedom we have to even voice our opinions. If you want to protest, protest outside government buildings. Do not protest the funerals or memorials of fallen soldiers. This is your neighbor you are attacking, not the politician you want to reach. Respect the friends and family who are mourning the loss of their brave soldiers.
Something needs to be done to restore the significance of Memorial Day. I do not know what, but something. Possibly TV and radio stations can be required to hold a moment of silence at 3PM. Maybe a law can be passed to ban protests at cemeteries and funeral homes. Maybe the government could put similar resources for July 4th celebrations into Memorial Day celebrations.
I am not saying we can’t go to the beach, grill out, relax, or go shopping. What I am saying is to show respect to our fallen soldiers, to our heroes that have provided the freedoms to be able to enjoy ourselves or voice opinions. Not every country has the freedom we have, and the value of that freedom continues to be lost. So please, take a moment today and honor the lives that have provided us our freedom.