There is NO Happy in “Happy Memorial Day”!

“We don’t know them all,

but we owe them all.”

(Savannah Church Sign in Tribute)

It’s not all that unusual, on the last Monday in May, to see signs in front of businesses or other places proclaiming Happy Memorial Day. While no doubt well-meaning, this greeting to those who drive by is fundamentally inappropriate.  Happy Halloween, yes.  Happy July 4th, fine.  Happy New Year, of course.  But there is no happy in Memorial Day.  Other than the happiness that comes from living in freedom, thanks to those courageous men and women in uniform who gave their all to gain it, or maintain it, for the rest of us.

Far from happy are the emotions of personal loss made all too real, once again, each Memorial Day among those parents, spouses, and perhaps even children, who have lost a loved one in a war zone, or even in stateside training.  They are the ones for whom Memorial Day is a time of renewed sadness, placing the vivid focus yet again on their loss. While proud of the ultimate contribution made to help sustain our way of life, the loss of a son, daughter, mother, father, or spouse in uniform is felt in ways that others cannot begin to fully understand. We can feel it on the surface.  While those directly impacted feel that loss deep down inside.  As with the untimely death of any family member, memories fade slowly, more likely, never.

War Memorials, both local and national, are important for many reasons.  And a key one, amidst today’s hectic lives, is that they remind us to remember.  Memorial Day is that one official time to recall those sacrifices made, for the nation, and on our behalf, both by service members who have perished in the fight against America’s enemies, and lest we forget, by the families left behind.  Those here at home who must continue to live with the mental and physical pain of such noble, but unfortunate loss.

This is the day to remember, reflect on, and be sincerely thankful for those military members who’ve gone into harm’s way, and who have given their lives so that we might continue to live ours freely. We truly are the land of the free because of the selfless, heroic acts of the brave.

Today, as we should do every day, we focus on those ultimate sacrifices made on our behalf.  The losses are serious.  The memories solemn.  There simply is no happy in “Happy Memorial Day.”