What is a good passing greeting for Memorial Day?
Many people think of Memorial Day as a holiday. A day free from work, to gather with friends and family for a picnic and games. Yes; it is supposed to be a day to “pause”, but not just from our jobs. It is a day to pause and reflect on the many people who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be here, and free, to share this time together. So, obviously, “Happy Memorial Day” isn’t exactly the right thing to say.
Unfortunately, our country has a roller coaster history on properly respecting our veterans for their service and sacrifices. One of the lowest points of course, was during, and after, the Vietnam war. Those who fought were ridiculed when they returned, and forced to effectively fight another battle at home. This, just because they answered the call when our citizen-elected leadership said the cause was vital to the safety of our nation and our liberty. Our Vietnam veterans did the job their country asked of them, despite the consequences and no matter their personal beliefs. For those who survived, and the families of those lost, today no doubt brings back painful memories. For any of us who has lost someone we know, in any military conflict, this is a difficult day. Somber. Reflective. Thoughtful. Certainly not “Happy.”
Thank goodness we’ve come a long ways since then. During Desert Shield/Desert Storm, people began to recognize that no matter what they thought of the fight, the fighters weren’t to blame. When called to go they do, and some who go, don’t come back. Those are the patriots we honor on this, and every, Memorial Day.
It is also a day when we show our gratitude to those who’ve been personally touched by the sacrifice of a brother, sister, father, mother, cousin, or friend. This is also their day to quietly thank their loved ones for another day of living in liberty. It isn’t something they will speak about, but they are all around us. Millions have been touched. On Memorial Day they live in a fog, with a sense of the past and of personal loss that you can’t see on their faces, but that weighs on their minds.
Yes, the weight of this day is heavy and that makes it difficult to think of a greeting that fits. Maybe the best we can do is to be a little more considerate and compassionate on this day of remembrance. And for ourselves, a grateful heart seems appropriate for the gifts the memorialized passed on to us; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.