A Different Memorial Day


Today is Memorial Day in America; the day we set aside each year to remember our war dead. This year it is not that simple and even sadder. Let’s explore.

I am lucky to have been born in America. Add ‘em up and subtract ‘em I believe we are the greatest country in the world; imperfect, but still on sum the best. The only reason I enjoy the freedoms I do and have had most of the opportunities I have had is because those who came before me sacrificed themselves in wars with some making the ultimate sacrifice.

Immediately I think of World War II where many of those who fought alongside my late father didn’t get to come home at its conclusion like he did. Prior to that (and before my family came to America) there was the Civil War which preserved the country. Going further back we have the Revolutionary War which established America as a nation in the first place.

Today we honor all our war dead regardless of how noble we think the particular excursion they died in was. Nobody in the military cuts their own orders. They don’t get to vote on going to war or not. Given the order they simply obey. I am of the philosophy that you can disagree with the war but you should never disrespect the warrior!

Typically Memorial Day ends up being just another Monday off from work or school and turns into a party. Like most holidays the true meaning has gotten “lost in the translation”. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. It has become a day of picnics, the beach, ballgames and cookouts. A lot of adult beverages are consumed on Memorial Day and not as toasts to the memory of our war dead.

For those of us who think before we act this year will be different in that respect. Despite the “efforts” of President Trump and many of the Governors (I have to think under purse strings pressure –ala Ronald Reagan) the prudent action is not to succumb to desires and memories but to stay home or at least maintain social distancing practices.

One of my favorite Memorial Day activities is to watch a major league baseball game. OK, I’ll admit sometimes I viewed multiple games on TV between meals. This year that is impossible. As of this writing MLB is trying to put together an abbreviated season but even that is not guaranteed. In any even there is no baseball today.

Outdoor activities if undertaken with sufficient safeguards are actually recommended. Going to bars and restaurants is not. Plan as if you were making a life and death cost/benefit decision because you are.

As I do every year I’m asking Americans to take a moment to remember our war dead. I’m not going to hold the unrealistic expectation that they center their day’s activities around that because they won’t. If my projections are accurate, today is the day America will surpass the 100,000 official coronavirus death mark. (A reasonable interpolation of available data is that the true number is between 160,000 and 200,000.) I ask that you remember them too.

Normally Memorial Day is the day Americans pause to remember and honor our war dead. Our past presidents reluctantly sent them into war to defend our nation. The majority of the additional dead we remember today lost their lives simply because the current president is incompetent; deadly incompetent! Today is a different Memorial Day; a very different Memorial Day!

Have fun but first and foremost stay safe and keep your fellow man safe by wearing a mask if in close proximity! The 100,000 number will grow but you neither need to be part of it nor the reason it rose.

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