Good Day, Good People!
I hope your day is going well so far because guess what… it’s a holiday weekend, baby! *insert public jig here*
We’re not out of school yet, but at least I have a class-free Monday thanks to the service men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. I teach a significant amount of veterans each quarter and yesterday one of them said something that struck a chord within me.
After class, she expressed her annoyance in that she hates it when people say “Happy Memorial Day” to a veteran. I asked her why although I had an idea of where she was going with the conversation. She explained that the day commemorates the death of fallen soldiers and there should not be a “happy” greeting in front of it because it’s not a happy occasion/holiday. I listened to the rest of her spill and so did a few lingering students waiting to sign the attendance roll. Considering it was a speech class and I encourage them to consider all sides or “voices” on an issue, I took the opportunity to share why someone would put “happy” in front of their memorial day.
My deceased military family members did not die in combat, but they did serve admirably. They were happy in doing what they loved… serving. Marines, Army, and Air Force run deeply in my family tree. Memorial Day for me is not happy because they aren’t here. It’s a Happy Memorial Day because I make sure to pause and celebrate their happiness. While I wouldn’t dare compare the pain of them being missing from my life to someone who has greeted the casket of their fallen soldier, I’m not sure if I’m completely in favor of removing the “happy” from the holiday. Their ultimate sacrifice was not happy, but their gift of service probably made them happy. Whenever I see military personnel (active, reserve, or veteran), I tell them thank you for serving. No matter what. Each time, I get the same response – “Thank you ma’am, “Thank you for your support,” or “It’s my pleasure.”
Maybe it’s ingrained, but I’d like to think they are doing something that makes them happy… serving others.
I understand her disdain for people that walk up to a veteran and saying “Happy Memorial Day” with a pasted smile. I sympathized with her past military experience where individuals were not respectful of her fallen comrades. I acknowledged that Monday may not be happy, for she is entitled to feel and commemorate as she deems appropriate.
She is the one with a “V” on her chest, not me. I cannot step into her shoes and say “I know how you feel.”
All I can do is honor my fallen with a circulation of happy memories and allow her to remember hers as she sees fit. She’s earned it.
What do you think? Should we take the “happy” from in front of memorial day?
Peace & Thanks for listening.
Photo Courtesy of American Soldier by Toby Keith