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Memorial Day, a mild rant on the reason for the season.

I noticed, as did the Auld Soldier, that over the 80's and 90's and into the 00's,he and I would get ever-greater attention revolving around the holiday, as, in our eyes, Memorial Day and Veteran's Day got more conflated.

There are lots of reasons for that, we supposed.  The relative peace of the time, the national schizophrenia regarding Vietnam, then the whole 9/11 and it's aftermath thing. 

I am frankly uncomfortable, when around this time of year people recognize I'm a veteran and they come up to me with a bright and cheery "Happy Memorial Day!  Thank you for your service!"

People like Karl Rove don't get it.

I know they mean well. 

But I'm a curmudgeon. The flag doesn't fly at half-staff today because of me.

It's *not* my holiday. 

Sadly, the Auld Soldier has made the transition to his day being Memorial Day, vice Veteran's Day.  But then, he's also quit quietly griping about it, too.  At least to me.  Mom may be getting an earful.

Something else I've noticed over the last few years.  The serving soldiers, especially the ones with the combat patches earned since 2003, have started muttering under their breath about it, too.

Because many of them now have "Absent Companions" and for them, Memorial Day isn't about the living.   It's about the dead.

Yesterday, coming home from the gunblogger event, I got a complimentary upgrade to first class on my flight, because I was wearing a shirt that said "US Army, Retired" on it.  The very nice lady at the counter said, "Thank you for your service!  In honor of Memorial Day, let's see if we can't get you into first class!"

I said, "Thank you ma'am - I appreciate the appreciation.  But this weekend isn't about me - that one is in November.  This one is about my brothers- and sisters-in-arms who aren't here.  And who won't be here ever again."

"And if I just talked myself out of first class - that's okay - give the seat to the kid over there in the ACUs."

She just looked at me a moment and said, "You're right.  And lets see if we can't get you both in there - in honor of your friends."

She gets it, now.

It's not my day.  It's for those who have no more days.

It's Leonard's day.


 And, while we are at it, is it too stinkin' much to ask car dealers, couch dealers, mattress warehouses and everyone else to CLOSE THE DOORS one day a year and for God sake do not have a "Memorial Day Sale".  My goal is to look up the owner of one of these places, find out when his dad died, and ask if we can have a "Your dad died today sale"
Really, folks don't get it...
 I haven't been anywhere today. I refuse to sully the day with commercial activity of any kind. I simply want to remember the family members that have served before me that are no longer among us.

No Rich, they don't get it, and as military service becomes rarer among the civilian populace, it will become worse.
I had a chance to sing the National Anthemn today at a cemetary rededication. Battlehymn of the Republic too...

But most of the day is spent in quiet contemplation, with my loved ones close by, partly happy that Veteran's Day still applies, and remembering brothers for whom it doesn't.

May God's Peace be with you as you remember "absent comrades."
I have enough family that didn't make it back, or made it back broken badly, i get it. But I also come here today, to say, I'm glad you're one of the ones that came back, to be with us to help commemorate.

Sir, you and your commenters have grasped the real meaning of Memorial Day. It is strange, but many will never grasp the true meaning. Is this a question of whether or not you have served in the Military? Oddly, there are people who have  been in the Military, and yet, don't get it. Equally so, there are those who have not served in the Military, but they really understand. John's famous line sounds something like this, “Your mileage may vary.” In my humble opinion, he is showing a great deal of understanding the complexity of this issue. Today, I found myself in a rather quiet spirit. I want to just thank those who have given their lives.   I believe recognition is really the best way to deal with this.
  I have not served, 3 of my uncles did and my father was 4-f due to two busted knees: but this is not a "happy day." God bless those whome have given the ultimate and to their families. But also, still a "Thank you!" to those that have served, you cannot have reverence for those who have fallen without respecting those that have served - Thank you all and God Bless you and may he have favor on our Nation.
The last couple of days, I've been saying "Have a blessed Memorial Day" and have gotten second takes from a lot of people, many of whom then said something like "That's really what it is."

At least they're noticing. We can use this as an instructable moment. Gently. They're not Recruits, we're not DIs.
 As I have read the comment by Rob and htom, I may not have made myself very clear. There are rare moments when such gentleness or diplomacy are just not acceptable. Some people are just like that old mule, who would not allow the farmhand to put him into his harness. The farmhand went to the old farmer and explained his dilemma. The farmer knew the answer, he grabbed a 2 by 4 and walked out to the barn with the farmhand. The farmer said, stand off to the side. He walked into the stall and all you heard was  a “WHACK”. The old farmer said to the farmhand, “First, you need to get their attention.” Believe me, there will be those where times, that this is the only approach. If you don't think so, wait until we hear other people say, “I HAVE A RIGHT!” I have been in situations, when I heard this excuse. My reply, “Just who bought that right?” Their silence spoke volumes.

A major point must be brought out, “THIS IS NOT ABOUT RECRUITS OR DI'S!  More importantly, this is about being Citizens  of The United States of America.
Rob, first, I want to thank your family for their service to this Country. Like you, my father was not permitted to enter the military. But if you look at his life, you saw a man who encouraged his kids to serve this Country, in any way that we can. The irony of this whole  thing is this, this was a man who wanted to enlist in the Military, but they would not accept him. To be honest, this made him angry. It turns out that his job as a designer and builder of machines that work glass into medical supplies. Then one day, he began to see the big picture and poured himself into his work. Most of the contracts were to the US Government or to one of many subcontractors for medical supplies. As time went on he became more more skilled at his craft or trade. Remember, the were no computers everything was done by hand. He began to see his job as a way to serve the Nation. The were many people who found their slots and filled them. There are many important places that need help, this is all I have ever said, find your place and fill it.   
We spent the day in quiet contemplation and read some stories, watched some movies and tried to take it in.  I do not have anyone close to me who made that ultimate sacrifice.  For me,  that part of it is vicarious.  However, the freedom I have, the ability to enoy it means that once a year, I take a conscious effort to think about why I am so blessed, and to remember those who did make that sacrifice. 

I do it out of respect.

It used to bother us that even at church they'd mix up Memorial Day with Veterans Day.  Then they quit acknowledging Veterans Day, and try asking anyone when Armed Forces Day is.  I have a son coming home from Afghanistan in a month, and his brother is headed TO Afghanistan in July.  And I have a nephew that just took off for Kandahar.   The son in Afghanistan said it was a working day just like all the others.  No ceremony.  No candles.  No nothing.  Yet, the press finds a group with candles in Kabul.  It looks like we are fighting a losing battle educating the public.  I won't be suprised if Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day get combined. 
Joyce - you might be on to something there.  Then they'd free up a regular holiday for something else that seeks a PC imprimatur.  Armed Forces Day is just a designated day, vice a holiday, so no real gain there - but the services might like it because then they could only provide support for one day instead of three... and call it deficit reduction!

Win-win!  I'm ready for Congress!
Sorry, John.  But you have at least one ethical bone in your body.  That's a disqualifying characteristic.
Dangit!  I thought they removed that when I went to CGSC!  They promised they'd take it out when they installed the window in my stomach so I could see where I was going with my head up my a$$.
Karl Rove would have learned the term "Happy Memorial Day" and it's proper usage in the college course titled...........Draft Deferrment 101..........
And you believed them?  Yet another disqualifying characteristic.  Give it up, man.  Stick with what you plucking the wings off of flies.
I'm with you, sir. I've been trying for the last couple years to educate everyone who thanked me for my service on Memorial Day of the difference, but sometimes it feels like tilting at windmills. I started posting this canned response on facebook:

Today is Memorial Day. As a veteran of the military many people have and will thank me for my service today. Ordinarily I would gratefully accept and tell them that it was my honor to serve, but not on this day. This day I cannot accept your thanks. This day is about Marc Cleyman, Gary Bunch, Ryan McGee, Martin Lugo and over 1.4 million other men and women who laid down their lives so that the people of this nation may be free. So yes, please go find a vet today, but instead of thanking them for their service, ask them to tell you stories of their fallen friends. That simple act will mean more today than any other thanks you might offer them.
My sister got mad at me (won't talk to me now) and an old family friend argued with me all day that he had to thank me (it was his duty) and I had to accept. <Shrugs>. I'll keep after it, cause a few people got it.