People mean well and no-one is being disrespectful, but a lot of people will greet their friends and families this weekend by saying, "Happy Memorial Day!"  This is not a proper greeting and there are many who will become very bothered when we repeat that greeting and they have a very good reason.

Veteran's Day is a day set aside for all who have served their country. It's a celebratory day. Independence Day is a celebration that exclaims, Happy Birthday America! Memorial Day, however, is a different holiday. It's a holiday to remember those who have died while fighting for our freedoms, making it a somber holiday.

Many Memorial Day parades will require that popular music isn't played during the procession. It's thought to be disrespectful.

This doesn't mean that the Memorial Day purists are angry over your picnics and celebrations. After all, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off to summer. However, the holiday is meant to be somber and respectful, and with the world and even domestic affairs as fragile as they are, it's more important to thank those who put their lives on the line to keep us free.

History

Memorial Day started a few years after the Civil War as a way to honor the many Americans who died during America's deadliest war. It was called Decoration Day, meaning the decoration of gravesites of the many fallen heroes.

"The story of Memorial Day begins in the summer of 1865, when a prominent local druggist, Henry C. Welles, mentioned to some of his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living veterans of the Civil War it would be well to remember the patriotic dead by placing flowers on their graves," according to Wikipedia.

The next year, Waterloo honored the fallen in a more formal Memorial Day and it it continued until it ultimately spread throughout the United States. Waterloo is credited with the first-ever official Memorial Day holiday. "Waterloo held the first formal, village wide, annual observance of a day dedicated to honoring the war dead," according to Wikipedia. In 1967, New York State recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day, and the United States Congress soon followed. Fast forward to 2024, and we still memorialize our fallen heroes in the very same way.

Unified Respect

In 2015, veteran Jennie Haskamp wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining why she, as a veteran, "Hated Happy Memorial Day" as a statement. She explained that the day was set aside for those who have fallen and sadly it's become a day of barbecues, sales and celebrations - instead of a somber day to honor those who have helped guarantee the freedoms we enjoy every day.

"It’s not Veterans Day. It’s not military appreciation day. Don’t thank me for my service... Please don’t thank me for my service. It’s take the time to pay homage to the men and women who died while wearing the cloth of this nation you’re so freely enjoying today, day," she wrote.

This Memorial Day, we'll all try to enjoy family during the long weekend. There's no need to feel guilty for that. It would be nice, however, if we all at least carve out some quiet time this weekend to just reflect on those who have fought and died for our freedoms.

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