In honor of Memorial Day, I’m not posting my usual Mythology Monday until tomorrow. Today is a day to reflect on the lives lost in service of the military. As a child of Veterans, a grandchild of Veterans, a niece of Veterans and a friend of both Vets and Active duty service members, and someone who grew up right outside of Fort Benning, I have nothing but the highest respect for those in the military and nothing but the deepest sympathy for the families and loved ones who have lost a service member in combat. Take time this weekend and think of them. Whatever your opinions on the military or their missions, I think we can all respect the gravity of someone dying for their country.
That being said, this trend of shaming people for using this holiday weekend to have fun needs to stop. I’m sure you’ve seen the memes showing women or children sobbing over their lost loved ones and so helpfully pointing out that today isn’t about a party it’s about honoring fallen soldiers. I’m not going to post the pictures of the sobbing wives and children here because I like to consider myself a somewhat decent person. And while I’m sure the people who created the memes had their heart in the right place, can we stop for a second and remember the people in these pictures are actual people? As in they may also see these memes, pictures of them in the throws of grief most of us are lucky enough to only have to imagine being used to incite a national guilt trip. I mean really, let’s think about this. In an effort to honor these particular fallen soldiers, someone snapped a photo of their grieving loved ones and used it to shame people for…what? eating Barbecue? The point of Memorial Day isn’t now and has never been to sit around wailing and making someone else tragedy all about us. Ostensibly, the idea behind the cook outs and beach trips and the general celebratory feel of the three day weekend is to take a moment from our busy lives to appreciate everything we have and to recognize that our freedom and our lifestyle came with a price. One that was willingly paid so we could continue to be happy and safe.
So yes, take a moment and remember the troops but don’t feel guilty or shame others for enjoying the moment, because moments like that are what they fought for. And for the love of god, leave the people who need to take the day to grieve on a deeper more personal level because for them it’s not just about the abstract notion of honoring fallen soldiers but that one soldier who meant the world to them, alone. Don’t use them to prove your point. It’s disrespectful and its the worst kind of slactivism. If you truly feel that spending the weekend partying is disrespectful, do something else. Send care packets to the active troops, write your local politician about the shameful care of Veterans and ask them what they plan to do about it, those widows and children in those pictures, they may need a helping hand. Take the money you’re saving by not going to a barbecue and donate it to the children of fallen soldiers relief fund. Share your contribution on Facebook! That’s a lot more useful than sharing that meme. By the way, a lot of the organized Memorial Day parties put all or most of the sales of barbecue and what not toward that. If the city sponsored one in your area isn’t, ask why. Chances are, if you ask publicly enough, that will change very quickly.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a great day planned with my family. In memory, of course.