It’s (Suddenly?) Wrong to Say “Happy Memorial Day”
This came out of the blue. Apparently, it is now offensive in the extreme to so some people to say “Happy Memorial Day”. I found this out, as with most things, via Facebook.
ACTUAL FACEBOOK POST:
“Saying ‘Happy Memorial Day’ is like saying ‘Happy 9/11’. It’s supposed to be a somber holiday”.
I’m not saying I disagree. I’m only saying, “Is this true?” and, if it is, “Why am I just finding out about this now? On Facebook??”
Here’s how every Memorial Day of my childhood would unfold: in the morning we would go to the cemetery. My mom would put flowers on her father’s grave. She’d put flowers on the grave of my Uncle Laverne. Then, we’d go to my Mom’s side of the family’s big reunion. It was always at Chandler Park in Sands Springs, Oklahoma and there would be a hundred or more relatives there. We would eat, play and…reune? Reunite? Whatever you do at a Reunion. The point is, I don’t remember anyone being especially somber or sad. Were there any veterans in my family? Sure, probably a similar amount to most rural Midwestern families of the time.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever wished someone a “Happy Memorial Day” or not. Since we used to have one of our big station events on Memorial Day (interestingly, huge events, concerts, mattress sales and baseball game don’t get called out for disrespecting the holiday), I find it well within the realm of possibility that I probably have. It’s entirely likely that I have said something along the lines of, “Happy Memorial Day, a big thank you to all veterans and welcome to the KLAQ Balloon Festival! Who’s ready for Candlebox?” on a stage in front of thousands of people. In all that time, no one ever mentioned to me that saying “Happy Memorial Day” was a deeply offensive sentiment.
Also, I feel like if they had really wanted us to be somber about Memorial Day they WOULDN’T HAVE SCHEDULED IT TO COINCIDE WITH THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR! What kid isn’t going to grow up with fond memories of the “unofficial start of Summer”?!? C’mon!
I posted a version of this article on my own Facebook page and I got all kinds of responses. From, “It’s offensive” to “Not at all” and every position in between. I guess it’s subjective, then. You feel how you feel about Memorial Day and you’re entitled to that. Maybe there’s not just ONE way to observe Memorial Day. Maybe cook-outs and commemoration of those who died in service to their country can BOTH exist. Maybe it’s not anyone’s job to tell someone else that they’re “doing it wrong”.
Here’s a link to a five year old op-ed entitled “Navy Pilot: It’s Perfectly OK to Say Happy Memorial Day”. An excerpt reads:
“I do not know a single veteran who expects the country to mark this holiday with 24 hours of uninterrupted sadness. However well intentioned, this attitude does nothing to preserve the memory of those who died defending our way of life. In fact, it does the opposite”.
I’ll probably find something else to say instead of “Happy Memorial Day”. Or, maybe this will turn into a whole reverse “war on Christmas” situation with people posting things like, “WE still say Happy Memorial Day around here. If you don’t like it, then GTFO!” and then I’ll be shamed for NOT saying it. It’s not like we need ANOTHER thing to be divided about, though.