(Happy) Memorial Day?

Wesley Zemonek, a junior at Leesville, peers into Falls Lake on his day off. Many students travel to nearby waters such as Falls, Jordan, and Gaston lake to get away for the weekend. (Photo courtesy of Ray Youman)

This past weekend, students at Leesville and nationwide received an extra Monday off of school in honor of Memorial Day. For many, the extra day off provides an opportunity to escape the grind of school with a day at the lake, grilling hot dogs and getting a good tan in the process. And, in almost every circumstance, someone you pass by will greet you with a “Happy Memorial Day.”

A seemingly innocent greeting at first, “Happy Memorial Day” is the preferred phrase used by ordinary people and shop posters advertising cheap party gifts. Upon closer inspection, however, use of the word “happy” in this context should be questioned.

There’s a time and place for everything. People say “Merry Christmas”, for example, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. People say “Happy New Year” to signify, well, the dawn of a new year.

Memorial Day, however, isn’t as glamorous as the other holidays listed above. Instead, Memorial Day is a time to reflect and thank the lost and dead soldiers that fought for the preservation of our nation. When put into perspective, Memorial Day should be about as somber as they come.

However, while some people dedicate at least some time to the remembrance of these sacrificed soldiers, many others will seize the day only as a way to take a break from their weekly work struggle. One may certainly be “happy” that they are receiving an extra day off work, but they certainly shouldn’t attribute this happiness as a tie-in to the significance of the holiday by shouting “Happy Memorial Day”.

Over the course of America’s existence, over 1.1 million soldiers have been killed on the front lines. Another 40 million have served, just to see those men die. But with a current service population of under 1% of the total American populus, more people than ever before are disconnected with the realities that these brave men and women have endured every day.

People should enjoy their extra day away on Memorial Day. It makes sense, given the demanding work schedule many of us students go through every week. Going forward, however, be sure to take some time to commemorate the brave souls that sacrificed their lives to preserve your own.


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