May 24, 2007

Memorial Day - The Lost Holiday

If you have listened to the radio and watched the television closely these last few days you have undoubtedly heard the same things I have been hearing and what I see and hear is not encouraging. Memorial Day is fast approaching, we hear about it on the airwaves and in people's conversations, but not in the manner befitting to this Day. First a confession: everything I am about to say is true of how I responded in the past for it wasn’t until I began blogging that my thoughts on this “Holiday” have changed.

Webster’s provides four definitions for the word Holiday but it is the second and fourth that I wish to draw your attention to. The second definition is:

a day of freedom from labor, usually set aside for leisure and recreation,
It’s this definition that most people thing of when they use the term.
The fourth definition is:

A day set aside by law or custom to suspend business in celebration of some event.
A day set aside by law or custom to suspend business in celebration of some event, that is what Memorial day is supposed to be about, it is a day set aside to remember and memorialize those who have given their life in service to our country, while it is a day to celebrate, it is not a day to celebrate in the manner associated with the word "holiday". Unfortunately for most Americans it’s just another three-day weekend from work and until recently, that is exactly how I thought of it also, a three-day weekend that signaled the start of summer; end of story. Kind of sad for a veteran isn’t it?

How prophetic: on Sunday as I composed the rough draft of this, the email about this week’s Wednesday Hero popped into my inbox; another reminder of why we have Memorial Day. Is this really a day to prepare for the start of summer and to receive an extra 10% off your purchases at the big box stores, if you have current military ID of course, or is this a day to honor people like PFC Joseph Allen Jeffries, LCPL Steven Chavez, SGT Albert Duplantier, CPL Marcelino “Ronnie” Corniel, CPT Michael Mackinnon, CPT John Ryan Dennison, 1LT Robert Seidel, COL William Wood, SGT Jerry Bonifacio, Jr., SGT Paul Christian Neubauer, and SGT Michael Stokely, (whose father Robert posts here at this blog) as well as the others of “The 3000”? Memorial Day is not a holiday, a day to take off work and relax; it is a day to remember the soldiers who died in combat at the call of America and in defense and preservation of the freedoms we enjoy. While it is a day to celebrate, it is not a day to celebrate in the manner associated with the word “holiday”.

Our business culture has taken this important day and just like every other major holiday of our faith and nation turned it into one big promotional event in order to make money. Just as Christians complain about the commercialization of Christmas, so too should we be concerned about the commercialization of our lost brothers and sisters in arms. What’s worse is that many of these sales to offer a discount to active duty and retired members of the military but yet that very promotion, by definition, excludes the families of the very soldiers for which Memorial Day is set aside to remember. Are the non-dependant families of the 3000 somehow less worthy than those who are currently serving, those families who have paid with the blood and body of their loved ones?

If anyone should be receiving a discount it is they - and it is they who would be the last to ask for such a discount. Our Gold Star Families have paid more for this country than many of us will ever know or even be asked to pay, and yet they serve our country still. It is their loved ones Memorial Day was created to REMEMBER and HONOR and the business community should find a better way to honor them instead of with a sale event.

On Sunday I emailed both Lowe’s and Home Depot simply because those are the two biggest stores I shop at on a regular basis to ask them what their corporate policy is concerning these Memorial Day discounts. The Home Depot Customer Care Center replied:

“Although no continuous special discounts are offered for our Active Duty Military, we sponsor several Military related discount promotions throughout the year. The Home Depot is also proud to have been a part of Project Homefront. We applaud the efforts of the many volunteers who assisted more than 1,400 military family members and performed safety, security and maintenance repairs while their loved ones were bravely serving our country.”
Always the PR comes first.

As American’s we should demand that our heroes be honored in a manner fitting their station. As American’s we should be humbled before their ability to give of themselves when others refuse to pay their fair share. As American’s we should stand in awe at the sacrifice their families have undertaken so those lost souls of liberalism can march in the streets and call the President and out troops War Criminals. As American’s we should demand that the media quit killing our troops with their tacit support of the enemy. As American’s we should honor and remember all those who gave their life in service to our country, from the first shots of battle in the War of Independence to the present.

Our business leaders as well as our politicians must learn that their short-term gains are not what is good for this country and that we must not be embarrassed of our heritage as purveyors of freedom, the death of those in service to our country should not be another day of “Sales and Savings”. I urge you to contact the representatives of your favorite stores and ask them what they plan on doing for the families of those we honor on Memorial Day, and then make your own decision what you will do. As for my house and I we will honor our loved ones that have paid the highest price in service to our country, we will plant a flag at the foot of their stone, we will say a prayer for them and we will keep our money in our pockets.

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