Recently I’ve noticed a growing trend related to Memorial Day. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I’m missing something, but it bothers me a little bit. What first brought it to my attention I don’t know. Maybe I was feeling down, morose, whatever. But I suddenly recalled that for last year, I have no recollection of Veterans or others offering the traditional poppy. Trying to think back, I have no recollection of such offerings for the last few years, actually.
Now my wife will be the first to tell you I have the disease called CRS (Can’t Remember S**t) and that may well be the case here.
Whatever, it was enough to make me do a little bit of searching online. When I say “a little bit” I mean just that. I didn’t have to look far to see that I wasn’t the only one that had noticed the decline in meaning for Memorial Day.
It appears that more and more Memorial Day is just another three day holiday. People seem to have forgotten what it signified. Some might say it’s to honor our Veterans, and to some extent that’s true, but the true intent of Memorial Day was originally to honor those who gave their lives for our country. Many that regret this loss of knowledge blame the government, and I can see how they have a point. Originally May 30th was set aside as Memorial Day to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. As a holiday tied to a specific date, that worked, but in the desire to make it more convenient as a federal holiday, the date was moved to the last Monday in May, thus ensuring it would always be a three day holiday. That eventually just made it a long weekend to be enjoyed. For a long time people did remember and honor our Dead that day, but now more and more it’s nothing more than a welcome long weekend for BBQs and getting into the mood for summer. And this year…here it is two days before the long weekend and I’ve seen nothing at all about Memorial Day.
Don’t get me wrong. I can’t say that I don’t see it that way as well. I know I’ve never gone to the cemetery and paid my respects to the Veterans there just because it was Memorial Day. But I have always been aware what Memorial Day stood for, and every time I saw a poppy, I remembered. As a photographer, I’ve naturally visited cemeteries to take pictures and any time I see the grave of a Veteran, I pay my respects. Memorial Day, though, was special: All day long I’d see the poppies and know what they signified. All day long I would be reminded of their sacrifice and was grateful.
I just don’t seem to see that happening any more, and I regret it’s passing. However, I can at least use my blog to write about it and so hopefully continue the respect our Dead deserve a little longer. Until I die, I am grateful for their sacrifice even if I am too shy to go up to a Veteran and thank him. I shall continue to quietly thank them when I see their graves, their license plates, their hats, their vests, their uniforms. They will never know my respect and appreciation, probably, and I fear that in years to come it’s going to seem like fewer and fewer acknowledge or even care about their sacrifices, the buddies they lost, the memories they carry, the horrors they still deal with…in short, the burdens of being a Veteran.
Below I provide three links as a mark of respect, honor, and acknowledgment. One is famous, two not quite so famous, and the fourth is my own work. Please, visit them in order and please, please take a moment this weekend and on Memorial Day to give thanks for their sacrifices.