Memorial Day
May 25, 2008 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Memorial Day it seems is getting a bad name in recent years. But as the politicos run around like crazies, we mustn't forget the little things about the holiday, its history and what it stands for, and even its more traditional customs like grilling, and of course flag etiquette.
posted by msaleem (24 comments total)
They want to scrap the 3 day Memorial Weekend to restore the true meaning of the day? Then they better restore the true pro-union meaning of Labor Day as well.
posted by jfrancis at 12:03 PM on May 25, 2008

I live in a small town. 50% of the town marches in the parade. The other 50% watch. Some guys walk fast up and down the crowd seated on chairs and the curb, handing out small flags to wave and to take home and do lord knows what with. The flags are all made in China.

One flatbed came by, with 4 marines, standing, in full dress uniform...the crowd rose and applauded. I did not stand. I did not applaud.Why? Before that float and after tha float, there were vets from our other wars and no one stood or applauded them...rather sad, I thought. Commie, my neighbors thought.
posted by Postroad at 12:22 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by ZachsMind at 12:36 PM on May 25, 2008

Yeah, Memorial Day.

2004? or 2006? the boy king travels to a military base and gives an overtly partisan political speech. Damn I hate that guy. I'll be glad when he's just a bad memory.
posted by wrapper at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2008

Might as well restore the true meaning of Saturday, and go back to worshipping Saturn.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:47 PM on May 25, 2008

Why is it that every holiday has to have a generic holiday post with entirely unremarkable links? Thanksgiving was founded when Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. Christmas is when Christians around the world celebrate the birth of the man they call Saviour, but Santa Claus and Mithras might have something to say about that. Arbor Day is when trees get a birthday. Matt Haughey's Birthday is when Mefites around the world gather 'round the Blue Log and celebrate the birth of The First Admin.
posted by WCityMike at 12:47 PM on May 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

With whom and why is Memorial Day getting a bad name?
posted by DU at 12:48 PM on May 25, 2008

If people want to really celebrate properly, there would be parade floats with artful sculptures made out of replicas of shredded limbs, burning villages (cue the smoke machine), filthy VA hospital wards, et cetera. These empty heroes' marches and Air National Guard flyovers just bolster the lie.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:58 PM on May 25, 2008

Why is it that every holiday has to have a generic holiday post with entirely unremarkable links?

And often based on myth and inaccuracies.

Thanksgiving was founded when Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.

Thanksgiving, as we know it today, was established as a national holiday in 1939 by Franklin D. Roosevelt in honor of the 1621 feast shared by the Pilgrims with the Wampanoag Native Americans at Plimouth Plantation.

Oh, how many forget that the Pilgrims (on the Mayflower) actually first landed in Provincetown where they signed the Mayflower Compact weeks before moving on to settle in Plymouth.
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd like to second DU's question: Where is it that Memorial Day "is getting a bad name in recent years"? None of the links mention anything like this.
posted by jammy at 1:29 PM on May 25, 2008

if anyone can provide a link to buffy st. marie's UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, now would be a good time to do it.
posted by kitchenrat at 2:20 PM on May 25, 2008

real history shows that there were a number of settlers, and landings, prior to Plymouth Rock, and there were also thanksgivings, prior to the one we usually tout as The First.
I love all the holidays; beer, the mall, car sales, fire engines at parades, and old people bitchin that no one respects this or that event or group any longer.
posted by Postroad at 2:23 PM on May 25, 2008

There's a big celebration down at Guitar Center, I hear.
posted by stargell at 2:41 PM on May 25, 2008

Art Van is having a Memorial Day sale. Where's my flag?
posted by disclaimer at 3:36 PM on May 25, 2008

These empty heroes' marches and Air National Guard flyovers just bolster the lie.

This is just childish. If you think the efforts to battle the Japanese and Germans in WWII were pointless, then you need to watch a Holocaust documentary or read up on the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia. Battling such brutality involved truly heroic efforts. And I'm certain there were and are individual heroes in even the dishonorable wars as well. Yes, it's unfortunate that Memorial Day is often used as a chance for nationalistic flag-waving, but recognizing the extraordinary hardships and sacrifices faced and given by veterans doesn't necessarily mean a support for war. Grow up.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:44 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

The point of Memorial Day seems to be setting aside a few moments to remember that which we easily or perhaps purposefully forget. The sacrifice of others. What we have lost. The horror of war.

Where I live the cemeteries were very busy this weekend, with sorrow, and reverence, and mourning. I wish they weren't. I wish we didn't have to think about those who are gone, and what we have done. I wish it were about barbecue for more of us.

But tomorrow, like many, I will take a few moments and think about those who are no longer with us. Soldiers and civilians, families broken and mending, friends and neighbors fighting the wars we've so needlessly begun. And I will hug my kids, love my country, and hope and work and vote for a better tomorrow.

Besides the gut-wrenching photo essay posted earlier about the 20 year old war widow, I will also think about the piece I heard on the radio this morning about the value of life. And the story I heard Friday about honoring those who made a difference in out lives.

And I will remember.

I live just down the road from Boalsburg, PA. Boalsburg lays claim to being the home of Memorial Day. They say it started when two women so missed their soldiers, one a father, the other a son, that they went down to the cemetery and lay flowers on their graves. The plaque doesn't say it but they must have wept. And tomorrow, I suppose it will happen again. Different mothers and daughters, missing their soldiers.

Thank you, and I'm sorry.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:15 PM on May 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

The best way that we can honor our war dead is by forgetting the farce that Memorial Day has become in recent years.
posted by BrianBoyko at 7:23 PM on May 25, 2008

Ah - I always wanted to know this:

Why does the military wear a flag patch backwards on their arm?

The field of stars is to be worn closest to your heart. Moreover, the flag should look like itโ€™s advancing, not retreating. So, if a patch is worn on your right sleeve, you should apply it backwards.

Thanks for the post!
posted by nostrada at 9:05 PM on May 25, 2008

I think it's unfortunate that Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and even MLK and "President's Weekend" have lost most of their historical meanings in the public mind (despite the fact that there have been and will be parades and wreath-layings and so on). But rather than interpret it as selfish laziness on the part of people who would rather grill than go to a ceremony, I think it's just another indication that Americans don't allow themselves enough downtime in the first place, and so if you give them a three-day weekend under any pretense whatsoever, they're going to party.
posted by Miko at 9:25 PM on May 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

Miko, for the win.

Furthermore, what's up with the nonsense of having "holidays" where only bankers and public servants get the day off? How about holidays where everyone except the public servants get the day off? Call it "Tax Payer's Day".
posted by Goofyy at 2:47 AM on May 26, 2008

Postroad, did you applaud for the other groups of veterans? If not, maybe you should try that next time and maybe your neighbors will join in.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:35 PM on May 27, 2008

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