by Starlett Henderson
Have you ever used the words “Happy Memorial Day”?
Consider with me that these are contradictory terms.
Everyone has done it, said something out of habit without understanding its true impact.
I remember once, many Junes ago, when I asked a new group of friends what they were getting their Fathers for Father’s Day. I got three hurt looks back. Not one of their fathers were still living. They weren’t just away or simply out of the picture. They were gone.
It wasn’t going to be a Happy Father’s Day for them.
There are other broader examples. Merry Christmas! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Valentine’s Day is not happy for everyone.
Valentine’s Day , Father’s Day, Christmas: we will probably go on risking greeting someone in a way they don’t like, because chances of being wrong aren’t very high.
But, I have another example. A day just around the corner. Maybe you don’t know but treating this day like every other is a hot poker to the military community.
That day is Memorial Day.
Saying Happy Memorial Day is a really bad habit.
Memorial Day is a remembrance day.
If you don’t remember what Memorial Day is for; it doesn’t make the people who can’t forget happy.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy some much needed time off or hold your friends and families close, celebrating the fact that you are all together.
When fallen servicemembers lived, they did the same.
In the poem “Flanders Field,” our heroes “felt dawn, saw sunsets glow, loved and were loved.” When military deploys, family and freedom are values they fight for. They are also values they died for.
Memorial Day is a day to remember that.
Here are a few things to do:
- Remember to put your flag at half-staff
- Get in touch with a family who has lost a loved one and listen to their story
- Make a donation to TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) or
Honor and Remember.
- Attend a memorial service
- Lead your family in a discussion about love and loss and what Memorial Day is or isn’t
I’m glad I didn’t lose my friends over my misstep that day in June. My intention is not to divide us now either.
I’d just like to ask you to be aware and help make others aware as well.
Try a greeting like, “Remember the fallen!”
And, if someone greets you with a “Happy Memorial Day,” respond with “Never forget!”
Let those who notice stop and ask “what” or “why.”
Be ready to share an answer or your story.
Remember the fallen! That would make them happy.