Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I can't tell you how many people greeted me with a "Happy Memorial Day" on Monday.
What's so happy about it. It's a day set aside to remember our nation's war dead, yet, most Americans look at it as a three day holiday for family barbecues and vacations. Lest us not forget the true purpose of this day as explained below in an excerpt from usmemorialday.org:

"Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.)"

I walked around my neighborhood of Carroll Gardens on Memorial day, looking for some examples of patriotism. There were some, but they were few and far between. I'd say maybe every block had one American flag raised. Pathetic, really. In my window, I still have a newspaper pull out of an American flag with the message, "Support the Troops." It's been in my window since September 11, 2001, although it's fading colors are now red, white and yellow.

I was scheduled to attend a big backyard barbecue in Queens this Memorial Day weekend, but it was postponed at the last minute because of a family emergency. That's probably a good thing, because I spent several hours at home, watching on T.V. some of the tributes to our American war dead. The ceremonies were moving.

Department stores celebrate Memorial Day with big sales. Macy's is perhaps the biggest culprit of spitting in the faces of soldiers by luring shoppers into their stores for deep discounts. Just a block away from Macy's Hearld Square location, a lone National Guardsman stands guard inside busy Penn Station. I'm sure he'd be impressed by Macy's wonderful tribute to our war dead up the street.

I have a way of solving this non-appreciation for the real Memorial Day. Instead of celebrating it on a Monday, make it the middle of the week, where it would be nearly impossible for people to create a three day weekend of barbecues and beach-going.

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