Apparently, Memorial Day is an adult holiday. This was deduced when my friend’s daughter came home from preschool excited for a holiday. She asked what was special about Memorial Day and my friend told her that it’s a day to remember people who’ve gone to heaven. To which her daughter promptly said, “Well, that’s BORING!”
So it made me ponder what Memorial Day really means to most of us. Do you celebrate the traditional Memorial Day? Do you even know the difference between Labor Day and Memorial Day? Go ahead and admit it. You won’t be the first person to tell me you don’t know which one is which. Truthfully, I think it mostly just means a 3-day weekend to a good share of the population! And it also means school’s over, or about over, to a whole lotta kids in our country. I, dare say, it might even be considered the gateway to summer for people like me, especially since every pool in the Midwest is scheduled for opening Memorial Day weekend.
And if my weekend is any indication, it also means a ton of traffic mass-exiting every major city via plane, train, and automobile for weddings, baseball tournaments, or family reunions with every single one of you complaining about the prices of tickets, gasoline, and food along with the general crappiness of the weather this weekend. You had plenty of offers for plans this weekend, didn’t you? Exactly. And because of all those plans and people stopping over, you and every other person frantically cleaned or at least frantically threw crap in laundry baskets and hid them in your closets so friends and family could visit. With those house guests, it also inevitably means you also sent some male in the house to the grocery store to buy the hot dog buns or ketchup that were forgotten on the pre-visit list-toting grocery run and probably you told ‘em to grab some donuts for the morning breakfast, too. And you probably didn’t see them for hours because they had to stand in line with the other hundred bajillion people that forgot something for their guests. I saw your husband or brother there, didn’t I? I noticed they were buying a case of beer, too! But the smell of your grill with the steaks on it was heavenly! You could leave the tilapia for healthy Aunt Hazel next time. I’ll be okay without it.
Now, I know that kinda makes us look like we missed the point, right? But I don’t really believe that. What I believe is that we as a country don’t take enough time anymore to socialize instead of work. People love Memorial Day because it is an excuse to work less and play harder. We need times like this to take flight from our jobs and go back to communicating and enjoying others, as well as relaxing and having a little down time. Is that to say that we as a country don’t care about the real reason for Memorial Day? No. I believe that by the end of the weekend, all of us have celebrated it in some way, shape, or form. Maybe you saw your cousin who just got back from Afghanistan at the family picnic. Maybe you donated to the Red Cross fund for the tornado victims when you stood at in the grocery line for an hour. Maybe you went home, back to the home town, and swung by the cemetery to place peonies on your grandpa’s grave or maybe as you drove down the middle of town, you admired the many flags waving in the el nina breeze and thought how lucky you were to be an American.
For Memorial Day is about remembering and about memories and isn’t that what we’re all doing by going back to the old days of friendship, family, celebrating, barbequing together, playing games with the kids, putting out the American flag on your flag pole, and hanging out in the backyard? Yes.
See, I realized this week has been a picture of America at its best. I saw friends I hadn’t seen in a year that remind me of the good times but also of how far we’ve all come. I watched “America” vote for Scotty McCreery, a country-music singing, non-cussing, baseball-playing, good kid from North Carolina, to be the next American Idol. I drove through small town America where the VFW was selling hot dogs and apple pie before the Memorial Day parade. I saw cows grazing with their baby calves in lush green pastures. I watched the last Oprah Winfrey show where she praised God for taking an impoverished little girl and making her a successful woman with millions in dollars and the ability to put hundreds of kids through college each year. I took a couple of pies in the face because teenagers donated their own candy and clothes money to the Joplin Relief Fund. And I walked among tombstones that had flowers in front of every one of them because one of the townspeople believed everyone in the cemetery should be celebrated on this very weekend.
I can’t tell you that we are perfect people. We aren’t, and probably never claimed to be. But despite what gets pointed out on the crime beat every day on the morning news, we aren’t all bad either. So with what remains of the weekend, hold someone close, salute the American flag or the American soldier you see down the street, sing with the National Anthem at the beginning of the NASCAR race, or have a much-needed grilled hamburger and potato salad with the family. And, on your way home, say your thanksgivings for what you’ve got as you get stuck in construction at mile-marker 45. I’ll be in the car next to ya. Happy Memorial Day!