Maybe there will be fewer Memorial Day sales this year

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. – Robert Laurence Binyon

My wife and I see our reflections in the Vietnam War memorial as I find the name of a high school classmate two died there.

Memorial Day Sales

These anger me because merchants raking in money and shoppers getting a good deal on the latest electronics equipment are not the purpose of this day.

Must we commercialize everything, including the day set aside for remembering our dead?

I’m by no means a hawk–just the opposite, actually. So, I do not see Memorial Day as part of the misbegotten notion that there are glory and honor in war.

Some say we should use the day to visit military cemeteries and memorials. That’s a better idea than heading over to Walmart and filling up a shopping cart. We could spend a quiet day at home or walking a favorite trail through the forest: such things allow us time to attune with the universe, ourselves, and our fallen soldiers.

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’

Reading this book at a relatively young age was a strong influence on my becoming a pacifist. The novel is graphic, shows the dying, the dead, and the battle-weary in ways that leave no space for saying “isn’t this glorious?” Not that I’m suggesting we all stay home and read military history, battlefield novels, or watching films like “Saving Private Ryan” or episodes from the old TV series “China Beach.”

You Don’t Need to Become a Pacifist to Remember

The fallen were doing their duty as they saw it, sometimes against their will (at times of conscription), whether we agreed with the need to fight a particular war or not. Those who came home from those wars have not forgotten the fallen. Those who came home and those who did not and the families and friends of both often supported the wars and the need to enlist, heart, body, and soul. Those who supported the cause and those who did not have an opportunity to come together on Memorial Day and remember those no longer with us whom we loved.

I’ve written somewhere in one of my novels that the true casualties of war are those who come home with or without PTSD. They need our support and understanding and, on Memorial Day, our solemn regard for those who were killed. There’s no support available from us while we push and shove through the crowded aisles on a big box store.

The stores I respect are those that close on Memorial Day out of reverence for the meaning of the day.

–Malcolm

 

 

3 thoughts on “Maybe there will be fewer Memorial Day sales this year

  1. It is perhaps unlikely – but I have walked the Vietnam War Memorial too. I think it was newly ‘opened’ at the time. So something like 1988 – would that be right? Immensely impressive. Dignified and at the same time seemingly endless.

    The soldier who dies in war is just the first victim. Behind him or her (previously a supporting network) are all the other people who love the one who has died, who are victims of the war too.

  2. One interesting thing to me was the way the initial uproar over the design of that memorial slowly morphed into acceptance and into the view that its wondrous power impacted every visitor. Yes, the victim “chain” begins with that soldier and moves back through that supporting network gathering more casualties as it spreads. I checked Wikipedia: they say, Ronald Reagan was at the memorial’s dedication in the fall of 1982.

  3. Thank you for checking (I could’ve: didn’t think of it – sorry). The design was certainly still controversial when we went, six years after the dedication.

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