Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

As far as I know, being the one of the first in my family to be born in the US, no one in my family has served in the US military. Since my extended family is so large, I don't know if any of my relatives have served in the military in the Philippines, either. Growing up, I didn't know what Labor Day, or Memorial Day, or Veterans Day were about. That makes this post a little difficult, since I don't really have a good frame of reference other than the internet. And we all know how impartial and balanced the information is on the 'net, right? Right.

So in doing a bit of very casual research, I found it interesting that there has been some discussion about the fact that Memorial Day is actually May 30, but that in 1971 the observance was moved to the last Monday in May, so as to give us all a three day weekend. I am sure there were more noble reasons than that, but then, we live in a day and age where tourism can dictate the first day of school, so what do I know?

Leading the charge is a distinguished serviceman who looks an awful lot like my late dad or at the very least an uncle of some sort, US Senator Inouye (HI). He's introduced a bill to change Memorial Day back to it's original date. According to, Mr. Inouye has re-introduced the bill every two years since 1989 and more often than not, the bill has faded away without co-sponsorship. What impresses me is that Mr. Inouye is himself a veteran, who lost his right arm in WWII. He was the first American of Japenese descent to serve in either House of Congress. As far as credibility is concerned, I would trust this man to represent how veterans would want their lives commorated by the nation they serve.

I am actually surprised that there isn't more momentum behind this, just in terms of getting another day off. I assume that businesses and schools don't want to deal with the extra time off, but wouldn't that translate in more money being spent somewhere else? My guess is that as a nation, we don't seem to be very comfortable with the idea of death. And the notions of death and sacrifice are even more unsettling. How do you pay your respects to that? What would a national day of mourning like without it being a specific person, like a past president? Look at what happens now with Martin Luther King, Jr. day - it's a day off but that doesn't mean that everyone knows or appreciates why it's a holiday.

I confess to enjoying days off, no matter what the reason. I would like to think of Memorial Day as a sort of Thanksgiving, where the hardships endured by many brave men and women helped shape our country. I may not like the reasons or politics behind why a person would join the military or how their time, talent or effort is utilized, but I can certainly try to honor their memory and to remember their sacrifice as well as the sacrifice made by their family and loved ones.


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