Let's Rename Memorial Day Again
by James Glaser
May 26, 2008
Before we had Memorial Day, we had Decoration Day. Decoration Day was started after the Civil War, and whole communities in both the North and South would go out to the graveyards and decorate soldier's graves with flags and flowers.
Now that Decoration Day has morphed into Memorial Day, the practice of decorating the graves of the fallen has, except in rural America, pretty much come to an end. Today, Memorial Day has become important only to those who have lost a loved one. Whole communities are no longer involved in services, and few schools take part.
This past week was a prime example. The only thing talked about on television in conjunction with Memorial Day was the constant report that gas prices might reach $4 dollars a gallon this holiday weekend.
Memorial Day is no longer a "Day," now it is a holiday weekend with special "Memorial Day sales." a time not to remember our fallen troops, but a day to go out and spend money.
Memorial Day might come to an end because Americans are too busy to honor our dead. The truth is we no longer even take the time to count them. Yes, it is true that we know the number of American bodies that have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but what about the thousands of Soldiers and Marines who have committed suicide since they returned from combat. Even the VA puts that number as higher than our losses on the battlefield, but those numbers are hidden from the American people, just as the coffins of the returning dead are.
Over 58,000 American troops were killed in Vietnam, yet three times that number of troops have been reported to have taken their own life. There is no Memorial Day for those soldiers. Our government sprayed chemicals on our troops in Vietnam and thousands have died from that spraying, but again there is no Memorial Day for them, nor does Washington even keep a count.
We had few losses in combat during the First Gulf War, but thousands of returning troops sickened and died from something called Gulf War Sickness. Again, Washington has not kept numbers, and these troops will never have their Memorial Day.
So, if we are no longer going to go out and decorate the graves of our fallen, if we are now not even going to count those who have died from our wars, why are we keeping this holiday? Let us morph this holiday one more time and name it for what it has become "Summer Holiday Sales Day."
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