The Real Meaning of Memorial Day

Written by on June 2, 2016

I’m going to begin by saying “thank you” for keeping military personnel in your thoughts on Memorial Day. I’m glad that you know, and are hopefully teaching your kids, that it’s not just a three-day weekend to grill out and drink. But every time that I see someone post or hear someone say, “Happy Memorial Day,” I want to gouge my eyes out.  And every time I saw someone post “Thinking about our veterans today” on Facebook, I wanted to gouge my eyes out. I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but I wonder why.

Because here’s the breakdown: Veterans Day is November 11th. This is the day we can “think about veterans.” Veterans are, by the way, people who have served in the military but do not anymore. Armed Forces Day falls on the third Saturday of May. This is the day to honor everyone currently serving. And Memorial Day is the last Monday in May. On Memorial Day, we honor fallen military men and women. Those who fought and didn’t come back home.

Memorial Day can be a day that familes dread, whether their loss was recent or if it was decades ago. It still hurts. It’s a day those who came home safely may feel a little guilty, and they wonder what the families of their military brothers and sisters who didn’t come home are doing that day. So you understand how disrespectful it is to say “Happy Memorial Day,” or to incorrectly post a picture with your kids in red, white and blue with a #thankingourveterans.

I apologize for my little rant, but hope you will keep it in mind as these holidays come and go. They’re filled with pomp and pageantry and parades and ceremonies . . . but they’re much more real than that for those who were, or are, in the military, as well as their families.  

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