DY: In Just a Few Words (#85)
How did you spend Memorial Day?
Memorial Day. We can trace the root of this American holiday back more than 150 years to the end of the Civil War. The intent was to honor men and women who have given their lives in military service.
That is a wonderful purpose and there are many parades and other observances across our country to support that objective. But, like some other traditional holidays - think Christmas - Memorial Day has morphed into something quite different than its original purpose.
Although the Summer Solstice is still three weeks away, Memorial Day has become the unofficial start to summer. Millions of Americans spend Memorial Day weekend traveling to and from the beach, lake houses or their favorite campgrounds. People open their pools on Memorial Day. They plant flowers. When nobody’s watching, they go off to play golf. It’s a happy time with very little somber reflection as to why we have this holiday and what we are doing to preserve its original intent.
Our family is no exception. This past weekend, Karen and I went to Michigan to be with our daughter, Tracy, and her family. We drank wine, stuffed ourselves with summer fare, played a little competitive Yahtzee and watched the Indy 500 without giving much thought to the meaning of Memorial Day. We needed to catch up with oldest granddaughter, Halle, and her significant other, Matt. They live in Chicago and we don’t see them often. Next granddaughter, Carly - who will have her MBA in a few short weeks and plans to move to Virginia - made a small fortune over the past several days walking Butterscotch and Arthur while their owners flew the coop for their own long weekend. Son-in-law, Keith, stayed busy doing what most retirees do - kicking back. And, as always, Tracy’s main focus was to keep assuring her parents are easing into old age without too much resistance.
Our long weekend was a prototype American family summer holiday with little thought given to what Memorial Day is supposed to be about. But this year - more than any in the recent past - I had a nagging feeling some people who should have been present were missing. In fact, lots of people. Start with the 19 little boys and girls in Uvalde, Texas. And, their teachers. Then there are the 10 good folks who were grocery shopping in Buffalo a week or so ago. And so, so many more. None of them went to the beach this weekend. None of them enjoyed a relaxing barbeque. None of them went camping with their families.
Lives full of so much promise. Precious moments never to be experienced. Graduations, weddings, and future family reunions none of them will ever know. RIP.
As you can see, I had both a happy and sad Memorial Day weekend. I am eternally thankful to have my family and incredibly sad at the growing number of families being destroyed by gun violence every day in America - particularly with assault rifles.
I propose that we expand the scope of those honored on Memorial Day to include people who have lost their lives to military grade assault rifles. And then we need to get to work removing these weapons from everyday life. Who’s with me?
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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