Holidays 1: Reclaiming Memorial Day

Holidays (“holy days”) begin one way and then get twisted around another way (for example, when business owners are singled out on Labor Day for thanks as being the backbone of the American economy…but more on this come September).

So: Memorial Day. Or perhaps I should say Memorial Days. They began in the United States as ways to remember those who died in the Civil War/War between the States. As time has gone on, the holiday has come to be about remembering those American who died in various wars. And it gets mixed in with Veteran’s Day (more on that in November). And then both become about honoring those who have served in our militaries and who made sacrifices.

I want to suggest that this day should continue to be about remembering those who died in our wars, and in particular the Civil War. And I recommend that we set aside this one day each year to remember that every one of these deaths came about because humans wanted to control other humans–control their entire existences through slavery, control their governments, control their (access to) resources, control their ideologies, control the land they live on, control their religion, control their allegiances.

We are in a precarious political environment today. And our battles are over control: control of bodies, control of (access to) resources, control of ideologies, control of allegiances, control of land, control of religions, control of the government. States, both red and blue, talk about secession and about state nullification of federal law and judicial rulings.

We must remember on Memorial Day. As George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It is surely worth one day a year to avoid this fate.

Leave a Comment.