Holidays, Summer in Chicago

Memorial Day: You celebrate it your way, I’ll celebrate it my way

While scrolling through FB on Monday I saw a post by a former CN blogger asking Chicago-area peeps to share their “Mem day photos, especially if they were going to a memorial and/or parade.  We are looking for some for TV.”  She left the glamorous life of CN blogger to work the more glamorous and paycheck providing life of Social Media Editor at CBS Chicago.

New stations do these things all the time.  Slow news Holiday weekend, let’s do a collage of photos from our audience.  A snapshot of how the city celebrated the holiday.  And then it happened.  Someone posted the following comment: “I think its more appropriate if they showed pics of our fallen HEROS not parties.”


Don’t.  Just stop it.  Stop.  It.

I’m really tired of people telling me what I should and shouldn’t be outraged about (see Lions and gorillas).  But I’m even more tired of people who tell me the precise way I need to do something in order to gain Proper Commemoration Nirvana.

Look, we get it. Memorial Day is supposed to be about so much more than cookouts and picnics and three day weekends.  It should be a valuable reminder of the sacrifices of many brave people so we can all enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted.

Memorial Day should be our annual reminder that the decisions our elected officials make and the knee-jerk reactions among the public have real consequences. The consequence, every time we commit ourselves to go to war, is that people who would otherwise be alive will end up dead. The costs of war are abstract for most of us, but very real for Mitchell Daehling and his loved ones. We hear a lot of florid talk on Memorial Day about honoring and remembering sacrifices. In my view, we honor their sacrifices best by remembering the chain of events and decisions that led to them.

According to the Oracle Wikipedia “many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.”

That said, just because you don’t spend every waking second of the Holiday dedicated to the memory of deceased troops, doesn’t mean you don’t care enough.  To be sure, look to the opposite.  How many draft dodging politicians will stand up at a Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday and then cut funding for the VA the next day?  How many will send troops to die in battle without enlisting themselves or their children?

Look, we should make the meaning of Memorial Day more front and center than we do. Maybe we need to think of it more as a Day of the Dead instead of a Day in the Park.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t have our cookouts and picnics and three day weekends.  Those things are baked into the Memorial Day DNA and they aren’t going away any time soon.

One of the things  I did with my extra day off work was get in a much needed weight maintenance run.  I went for a run around my non-Green Zone, blue collar, ethic neighborhood. Here’s what I saw.  There were people working on their gardens.  On their homes.  Other people where spending time with their children.  I happen to think that’s a fine way to spend Memorial Day.  But if you don’t, that’s okay too.  Just don’t tell me how I should spend my holiday the way you spend it.

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