Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorializing Things

I noticed an article somewhere recently that was talking about how Memorial Day has lost its meaning ever since it became a Monday holiday.

For the record, I don't really remember all that much "meaning" around it back in the day. Now, Veteran's Day, there was a holiday for you. That was the day when the Veterans of Foreign Wars were out with their poppies. I've always had a soft spot for Veteran's Day, precisely because of all those old men outside the grocery store or the 5-and- dime, handing out their little paper poppies. I loved those little things and collected them but somewhere along the way they went missing. It was years later that I actually learned the significance of the poppies and of Flanders Field and when I did it made me very sad and nostalgic for my paper poppies and for the sweet little old men that handed them out to us. I really had no idea and wished I could go back and find them all and thank them properly.

But Memorial Day? I'm not sure it's federal importance has ever been as high on the holiday scale. Bottom line, it comes in late May and the necessary connection to the start of summer seems kinda inevitable.

But for the record, in the midst of our bacchanal last night there were conversation about our veterans and an expressed desire to see more done to truly honor the sacrifice of those willing to serve. Because I do grow weary of a government that is so willing to send folks into the maws of war, tell them how terrific they are for doing that, while treating them so shabbily upon their return. (Actually, there's some argument for the shabby treatment they and their families get while they are serving as well, but we needn't get into that).

Thing is, going back to WWII we don't have anyone, family or friend, who has died in service. Which is what Memorial Day is about. But without family stories of personal sacrifice, it seems almost specious to go on and on about it. Because that particular sacrifice is not one we've had to make. And it's one thing to acknowledge that others have and that others are making that sacrifice every day and another to truly know what it feels like to live it.

So last night we were enjoying friends, laughing and talking and bbqing and eating tarte tatin (one of the best I've ever made, btw, and golly Moses, I'm pretty much ready to make it on a weekly basis). Today The Spouse will probably watch some WWII movie marathon on the WWII movie marathon channel and I'm going to play Sims2 because I haven't for days. And if that seems very callous and la ti da in the face of Memorial Day, I apologize.

But at least I'm not running for President partly on the strength of my veteran status and being all red/white/and/blue about it while refusing to support or vote for the new GI bill.
Because here's the difference between me and people like John McCain. I may be at best 2 degrees removed from anyone who has made a sacrifice in war but at least I truly, madly, deeply believe that we should do all in our power to support those who served once they return home. Anybody can stick a flag in the ground at Arlington or pose for an "I'm a veteran, vote for me" photo op in the midst of vetting VP candidates at (one of) his (many) homes. We don't "honor" our veterans, or the memory of those who don't make it back by cutting care and benefits.

No, I don't like war one bit, my little muffins, and like I said, the sacrifices memorialized in Memorial Day aren't really something I understand but even I know that as questionable as the morality of war sometimes is, I know for sure it is immoral to send folks into it then leave 'em hanging when they get back; assuming they get back.

And with that, it strikes me that Memorial Day has, in fact, served its purpose. At least I thought about it.

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Blogger Sling opined...

I think this was a fine rememberance Rainey.
Dont'cha know the whole point of serving one's country,is so that the people at home can simply go about the business of living life as they see fit?
Of course you do. :)
Today,I think about my Father,and Uncles,and the kids serving right this moment.
Tomorrow,I'll go back to thinking about
the ill-conceived war.
It's how I separate the heroes,from the villians.

May 26, 2008 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

I am personally affected by all of the soldier inspired holidays because Vietnam ruined my dad. I made the mistake of watching Dateline or Nightline or one of those NBC Lines the other night and was moved to hyperventilating emotions by the story of a Vietnam vet who just returned to that country to give back a photo of the 1st enemy soldier he killed, to the long dead soldiers daughter. It was his plea for forgiveness. It was the demon that wouldn't rest for 30 years. And she clung to the photo and clung to the vet and they wept together. It was intense and beautiful and about all the memorializing I can handle for at least another six months.

May 26, 2008 5:06 PM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

Rainey, you did much better than I did--I didn't even mention the "memorializing" on my blog today. I agree with Sling's comment that the point of serving one's country is so that the people at home can simply "go about their business." I'm one of those people. And I do appreciate the men and women who fought for our country, so that I can drink Bud Light with Lime and eat cheese curds and not live in fear. :)

May 26, 2008 5:48 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

That is very profound, Sling. Thanks.

(big squenches for the Hat)

Isn't he just the smartest, MHP? Enjoy those cheese curds. It's your patriotic duty.

May 26, 2008 7:19 PM  
Blogger Willym opined...

Many of these types of holidays now seem redundent but as long as one person is remembering - in whatever way - it is serving its purpose.

In Canada we celebrate Victoria Day on or about the 24th of May. Its a celebration of the birhtday of a Queen who'se been dead for over a hundred years. Though officially it is our current Queen's birthday celebration most people today don't even think about that - its open up the cottage weekend or in Ottawa at least, plant the annuals weekend. Even though I am a monarchist to my mind Memorial Day has more meaning.

Auld: When we were in Vietnam last year we saw many Vets who were returning. We saw two grown men standing in a field at Cho Chi crying - for dead enemies, lost friends and a lost youth. Our guide told us that this was not uncommon. I could only hope that the wounds they carried had been healed.

May 27, 2008 1:44 AM  
Blogger Willym opined...

Sorry I've been absent from both reading and commenting - things have been slightly screw around here.

Congrats to the Child for surviving Middle school we want graduation pictures of courses.

I had to go back a bit to get the whole ring story. You know when you right about Spouse and your relationship your whole style changes - so much of the love that is in the two of you goes into those postings. And anyone who says: That's not an option. Gotta love him!

I promise I am back to almost daily readings and for what they are worth comments.

May 27, 2008 1:57 AM  
Blogger greeny opined...

Hear, Hear, Lorraine. Well said!

May 27, 2008 6:15 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

(claps little hands with glee) Willym! I was just thinking of you yesterday while pulling weeds in my garden and was going to email you to see if all was well and then there you are! (May get an email anyway but still).

Not to completely miss the point of your first comment but I think it's superfantastic that you are a monarchist. Seriously.

As to the rest of it, there will be pictures, of course. And "awww" to all the rest of it. Willym's back! Willym's back!

May 27, 2008 6:17 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann opined...

I'm late to the party, as usual, but what else is new...Thinking about it is the whole point, in my book - whether you have a personal loss or not. As someone really studying American Revolutionary history at the moment, I feel so very overwhelmed by what others have done for all of us.

Sling, as usual, is spot on about people going about their business. But for a few moments on Memorial Day and Veterans' Day we can think about how things are and how they might have been.

May 29, 2008 2:37 PM  

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