I met a woman at the store the other day and we started chatting. During conversation I asked what she had planned this weekend. She told me that every year her family gets together (on Memorial Day) for a BBQ, swimming and talks about her grandmother. I asked if her grandmother was in the military and from the expression on her face you would have thought I asked her if her grandmother was a goat.
She chuckled and said, “Ah no!”. I'm assuming my facial expression must have been one of confusion as she asked me why I asked her that. I wasn't sure if I should apologize for the assumption or not, but I replied simply, “With Memorial Day being Monday, I just assumed your grandmother was in the service since your family gets together to remember her that day.” I kid you not the woman then responds with, “Well yeah, we are remembering her on Memorial Day, because she died.” Part of me wanted to walk away but the other part of me couldn't help but explain that Memorial Day was a day to remember our U.S. service men and women who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms, not her grandmother. She started to argue that I was wrong and that the day I was talking about was Veteran's Day. Should I just have walked away, yes, but I figured the least I could do was try to explain the difference. She quickly became bored with the conversation and walked away. I stood there for what seemed like forever (which was most likely only a minute or two), shook my head and continued with my day.
Well over the last few days I have not been able to shake this conversation. Just like when you purchase a certain type of car and it seems that everyone else on the road now has the same car, I started seeing Memorial Day ….. everywhere …. but I'll be honest with you, what I've seen about Memorial Day on TV, in the paper, online, and on the radio explains why this woman has no idea what the day is truly about.
Let's start with how many places you've seen “Happy Memorial Day”. Happy? Really? The day we are remembering the brave men and women who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms and we “celebrate” the holiday with Happy??? Would you walk up to a friend who buried their spouse last year and say 'Happy' Anniversary of your spouse's death?
Next let's think about the commercial aspect of Memorial Day. How many commercials have you seen for you to come out and buy a new car, a mattress or even extra hot dogs for your BBQ that you need to celebrate the holiday? Our service men and women who lost their lives, deserve more. A true remembrance of their sacrifice. The families who lost loved ones need to hear from us. They need to hear that we haven't forgotten them, that we appreciate what those men and women sacrificed and we are sorry for their loss. Honor is what their memories deserve … not cheap mattresses.
So I would like to ask businesses, small and large, from San Tan Valley to D.C and all across the country to consider changing their “marketing” message next year. Instead of promoting that you have a million dollars in car inventory that you need to get rid of, why not promote that a donation will be made from all sales made over Memorial Day weekend, to a charitable organization that provides services to military families who have lost their loved ones? Maybe dedicate some wall space to your customer's loved ones. Ask your customers if you can hang a photo of the family service member they lost to help remind all of your customers what Memorial Day is really for.
Memorial Day shouldn't be a sad day for some, it should be a sad day for all of us. The United States of America lost citizens that were willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedoms. Memorial Day isn't a day to remember your grandma or even today's military … it is to remember those that gave their lives for the United States of America. Be proud that these people were willing to fight for you and honor them by remembering them, by fighting for what is right and standing up for what you believe in. If it weren't for those brave men and women, I wouldn't be able to write this blog and many of you wouldn't be able to gripe in a facebook group about how much you hate this or that.