Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Honoring the Fallen

This coming weekend America observes Memorial Day.  We shouldn't celebrate the day.  It is too solemn an occasion for that.

The Colonel begs the patience of the dozen or so of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon while he pontificates on his pet peeve.  The Colonel has few causes and crusades to which he devotes his energies that are more dear to him than the effort to educate those within reach of his voice and pen regarding the sacredness of Memorial Day, and the distinct difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.

While he always appreciates the sincerity of the sentiment, it has always frustrated the Colonel to be thanked for his military service on Memorial Day. The Colonel did not die (at least he doesn't think he's in Heaven, at present -- although his vast holdings here at shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere are close, and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is an angel) on a battlefield in service to his nation.

Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day--a day on which flowers were placed on the graves of war dead.  While many communities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, it is widely accepted that Columbus, Mississippi holds as strong a claim as any on that distinction.  Cemeteries across the south were filled with both Union and Confederate dead, but it was at the 1866 Decoration Day service in Friendship Cemetery (hallowed ground in which many of the Colonel's kin are buried) in Columbus that flowers were first placed on both Confederate and Union graves.

Memorial Day is reserved solely for remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in the wars to which our nation sent them. Memorial Day should not be a celebratory holiday. It should be a day of solemnity and thankful remembrance of our honored war dead. The trivialization of Memorial Day as a beach holiday and a shopping summons denigrates the memory of the fallen.

On the other hand, Veterans' Day, as the day formerly known as Armistice Day (in recognition of the date on which hostilities in the First World War ceased) is now called, is the appropriate day for recognizing all who served (past tense) in the uniform of the United States.  

If one wishes to use a specific day to recognize the service of men and women still in uniform, Armed Forces Day is the appropriate occasion for that.  And...you'll have to wait a whole 'nuther year for that -- Armed Forces Day was last Saturday. 

If you wish to properly observe Memorial Day, the Colonel respectfully refers you to:

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