Memorial Day. It’s a holiday that honors those who have died in the service of their country. It’s a Federal holiday, kicking off the summer with barbeques and potato salad. It offers an extended weekend, which of course means more time to do absolutely anything – including nothing. It’s always the Monday before – and occasionally the day of, my birthday. And it’s what every brave veteran hoped it would be: A day of crazy partying and awesome sales.
I don’t mean to be self-righteous about the whole topic – I mean, I’m not exactly a shining example of the “right” way to honor those we’ve lost in battle. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to our supposed celebration. Because, let’s be honest, with the ridiculous work schedule we’ve created for ourselves in this US of A? A day off – PAID, at that! – is pretty damned exciting.
But here I am in my life, sans a job – the ever solid reason for which to exploit this (or any other) paid day away from work. And as well, I’m doing my best to be as aware and curious as possible – although I’m not claiming either to be off-the-cuff and without effort. But seems a holiday with “memorial” in the title? Ought to raise the flag of both supposed virtues.
The holiday has been around since just after the Civil War, and was first dubbed Decoration Day to encourage citizens to honor fallen soldiers with tokens of gratitude at their graves every May 30th. While General John A. Logan is considered the founder of the holiday by issuing a decree to the point and recognition of the day, it was a group of more than 1,000 recently freed African Americans who first observed the sacrifices made, referring to the dead as “Martyrs of the Race Course”.
The day of recognition didn’t itself become a Federal Holiday until 1968, when the official date of observation become the last Monday of May, and re-christened as Memorial Day. And now? We get a three-day-weekend! Thanks, Congress!
Not surprisingly, the date change ruffled some feathers, considering all the reasons I laid out above. And, even today, some Vets are working to move the date back to one that focuses on what it’s all about: Honoring our fallen soldiers.
And so today Ima do more than don red, white and blue underwear (who am I kidding, I don’t wear underwear). First, I’ll cautiously hit post on a very REAL topic that I’ve tried “inappropriately funny” at – my apologies if I offended anyone but hey, thanks for reading! And now? Ima dive into my deep meditation I’m so fond of and focus on gratitude – real fucking gratitude for the many complete strangers who died in the service of the US – and, by extension, me. Today I’m working with love and gratitude – without either vocalizing or judging anyone about political ideology or asking questions about the magnitude of the loss of life in the wages of something as pointless as war. Because in the end? I am thankful. <3