Friday, June 01, 2007

Memorial Day Musings....

Some thoughts after Memorial Day Weekend.

A little bit of background first maybe. I don't consider myself a particularly partisan person. Though I do vehemently despise what the Republican party has come to stand for over the past 10 years (party of intolerance, moral majority, single-issue definitions of "value/faith", etc.), I'm not particularly impressed by the Democrats either. What I'd like to see are reasonable people taking workable ideas from both sides and doing them because it's the best thing for the country and for all our citizens (not just the connected/wealthy ones), even if it's hard, not because it scores the most political points.

Sigh...oh well, back to the real world.

I was against the war in Iraq because I believed it not only was wrong, it wasn't even good tactics/strategy. However I didn't demonstrate or speak out a lot about it; I regret that now. I want our troops home and out of there as soon as possible, but I also understand that we have to be responsible about leaving (even if we weren't about getting over there) and that might mean we have to be there a little longer.

Anyway, growing up I experienced Memorial Day as the holiday that it had become over decades of peace and prosperity: a three day weekend just as the weather was getting nice where you could hang out with family and friends and look forward to the beginning of summer and maybe take a moment to think about the veterans from the past whose sacrifices had gotten us to this kind of a life.

And of course as we all experienced, it also increasingly became about money, money, money. Big retail, big sales, big promotions. I'd certainly noticed it but I guess I'd never really spent a lot of time thinking about it. But this year all of a sudden I couldn't take it anymore.

We were up in Seattle for a wedding and our hotel was located in the middle of an upscale shopping center. So every time we walked out we'd see the signs: "Big Memorial Day Sale" "Don't Miss This Chance for Huge Savings" "Celebrate Memorial Day in Style" etc. I think it was this last one that finally made me lose it. There's just something obscene about glorifying commerce on this day when troops (and Iraqis) are fighting and dying on a daily basis. This isn't just about the sepia photos of the Greatest Generation over in Europe 60+ years ago. It's the sand and blood over in the Middle East yesterday. And tomorrow. Have we as a society forgotten that?

I drove Brian crazy all day muttering things like "There oughta be a law." Actually, that's not a bad idea..... How cool would that be if there were a law that said that as long as we have troops in active organized combat, businesses are not allowed to use Memorial Day for profit?

Okay, so that law will never be enacted.

But I did spend some time wondering what would happen next year (if we're still stuck in morass in Iraq) if some major retailer (and it would have to be one of the REALLY big ones) put out a statement that said something like "Memorial Day sales are really important to our business projections, but some things are more important than the bottom line. So in honor of those who are over in harm's way (no matter what your thoughts are about their being there in the first place), we will be closed on Monday, May 26th." (Or maybe open, but revenues/profits go to veteran's support groups or something). I know it won't happen, but what if it did? Could you imagine the cascade of peer pressure forcing multiple companies into making a similar statement? Hmmmm.....maybe I should start writing some letters. :-)

Anyway, sorry for the preachiness.....Just thought I'd share what was on my mind.


picture is from the American Cemetary near Omaha Beach in France


Anonymous said...

Hmm, your country is bizarre-memorial day sales? In England everything stops for a minute on rememberance day (not long enough i think), and in Oz all shops are closed for at least the whole morning in rememberance on Anzac day.
I agree with your sentiments Becca.
Jenny x

Steven said...

I couldn't possibly have found the words to say this... I am very proud of you, Becca... I wish we could have the idyllic world you describe... The real one can have its very sad and disturbing moments, and people... I hope our kids will have it better...