Several times over the past couple days I’ve heard the phrase, “Happy Memorial Day!” Happy? Has Memorial Day blended into our consumer culture writ large, its original meaning lost to the waste bin of past patriotic culture? Happy? What the fuck?! Am I just being a scrooge, or has the holiday we’ve set aside to honor and memorialize slipped into the vortex of yard saleing and three day, back to school/early Christmas sales and Walmart parking lot, used car extravaganzas? Oh yeah; and the President laying a wreath somewhere in Arlington.
My first reaction to the words, “happy Memorial Day,” directed in my direction by some Best Buy store greeter was to stop and consider the salutation. It wasn’t this kids fault manning the door so I continued on my way. Then I heard some jack-off political pundit utter the words from the set of the PBS Newshour. Ironically, it was one of the same New York Times editorialist who had been a chief cheerleader for the Bush Administrations disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. A fact I learned while studying the history post-9/11 due to my being in the Army at the time and, you could say, being out of the mainstream media loop. Anyway, there he was, telling me “happy Memorial Day,” without any apparent hesitation or nuance. How’s about “fuck you, try doing your job better day?”
You’d think that at least on occasions such as Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day at least, the nation would, if for only a brief moment, set down the 4 by 6 flags mounted on chop sticks and take stock in our perpetual state of war? Maybe we could turn the ooh-fuckin-rah empty patriotism down a notch or two in order to lessen the static and come to grips with all we’ve lost, and all we will continue to lose, should we plunge ahead blindly for another 15 years? Maybe, possibly, we could collectively sew the “lip service” shut and try to say what’s really on our minds, not what’s on the simple mind of a parrot; “Polly wants a cracker…Polly wants….
There are folks out there who will know what it means to lose something so precious and dear, perhaps we should utilize the holiday in a way that recognizes their pain? I’m all for having a good time, enjoying some sun and sand, knocking back some beers around a campfire, nevertheless, I’m even more for questioning our soldiers mission across the globe, remembering those who fought for us long ago, and being a role model for our youth, teaching them about struggle and strife and the importance of participation in our democracy. It’s disturbing how many youths ages 7 to 21 are incapable of describing the meaning of Memorial Day. For that matter, even fewer could describe Labor Day. A whopping 74% couldn’t articulate the core meaning of the holiday. Only 9% could accurately explain the impetuous of Labor Day. Why is this and what does it portend?
Maybe none of this even matters? Maybe my own clouded outlook is warping my opinion? Maybe my troubles, escalating in waves since leaving Afghanistan, Iraq and the Army behind, pollutes the way I process information, stranding me in a shallow pool of total bullshit? Maybe I should just get over it? Maybe I should’ve just been killed? Maybe I should still? Maybe?