It's the last weekend in May, which means that schools close for a day, public pools open for the summer and, most importantly, malls are filled with sales. But wait, if these few days are meant for relaxation, then why do we call it Memorial Day Weekend? Oh yeah.After the end of the American Civil War, Memorial Day was created as a holiday to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers; it now honors fallen soldiers from all American wars since then. But I can't remember a time when the holiday was actually used for its designated purpose. Like most federal holidays (MLK Day, Labor Day, President's Day) the day off is seen as just that: a time to unwind and forget about school and work for an extra day.
The distressing part is that none of this is surprising. It's just like the United States to take an emotionally meaningful holiday and turn it into a moneymaking vacation. What better day is there to buy a discounted couch than a day honoring the dead?
But to many people, Memorial Day is not about relaxation; it's about remembering their sons, daughters, parents and grandparents who died fighting for our country. It's understandable that when the government gives its workers the day off that people want to take advantage of it, particularly when the weather is nice. But people should still try to remember and acknowledge what the day was made for, especially in the D.C. area where there are so many museums and memorials dedicated to the fallen. All it takes is a walk through D.C. during the weekend to see people putting flowers on the World War II memorial or photos of their relatives on the Vietnam War memorial wall.
It's not about whether or not someone agrees with the war or whether they've had family die in battle, it's about respecting the people who gave their lives fighting for our country. While it seems unlikely that we can reverse this federal-turned-corporate holiday, it's still important to remember why the post office is closed.
For a list of memorial day events happening in the area, click here.
Hannah Lynn. I love lamp. More »