Or, as it is now known, Memorial Day. Growing up, for a long time I only knew there was an automobile race near my birthday, plus a lot of men in uniform looking solemn; and if we happened to pass by a graveyard, there were a lot of flags and flowers to be seen.
Like many holidays, the outward expression of this one's become phatic, stylized, cut off from the thought and meaning that should inform the act. Flying your flag at half-mast, setting flowers on soldier and sailor's graves, these are fine ways to show those around you that you can comprehend the fine-print notations on a calendar -- but what did you think about?
A holiday is a day away from work (for many) for a reason and that reason is not only to make the proper Ritual Grimaces; it is a time away, a time to set down your tools and your habits and consider your world and how it got the way it is. Men and women were maimed and died to build it; some willingly, in deeds of classical heroism, some flung from a sound sleep, some weeping.... But they all paid in blood and gave you your chance. Take time to remember and honor them -- and take time to consider what you have done and will do with their gift.
Update: Most bloggers say "Remember" for today. Yes and indeed -- but if remembering is your only thought, if empty gestures (or none at all) your only action, you might as well have slept all day. You're gettin' a day outside the usual for this. Some other citizen got a mouthful of blood and an early ticket out, spare a thought; spare a kind word; stand up for something or somebody, don't throw it away.
1. I shall no doubt be pilloried in print for it but some years ago I chose to fly only the Gadsden flag. If ever Constitutional government is restored in the States, I shall consider re-adopting the Stars and Stripes for display on days of signficance.
2. Ambulance Driver says it so much better than I.
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