Memorial Day 1998

We attended the ceremony in the square, followed by a parade, attended by a dwindling number of men who have seen real action, and returned as heroes. We watched mostly as bystanders, thankful, but removed by time from these old soldiers. Today we remembered those that didn’t return. Cheryl Wormley of the Woodstock Independent gave a nice speech, but one item stood out – a movement to restore Memorial Day to May 30th, three-day weekend be damned.

At first blush, I like my three-day weekends. But Memorial Day is dangerously close to becoming another entry on the corporate holiday calendar as time off to be barely tolerated, to join worthless greeting-card holidays like Grandparents’ Day and corrupted holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Check the papers – flags all over, war images, but only to sell stuff no one can afford, no one wants, and no one can resist. The merchants sell, and as the veterans fall to the ultimate weapon of time, our collective memories of their exploits gradually disappear into the mists of food sales and clothing extravaganzas. And long weekend getaways rarely include trips to VA hospitals or military cemeteries.

I have to weigh in on the side of the purists. Let the merchants find some other way to trick the consumer into overextending yet another credit card. Leave the brave men and women who fought to preserve their right to sell rest in peace knowing that for one day, people will actually have a day to think about their sacrifice without worrying if there are any more Princess Beanie Babies to sell at the mall.

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