Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is Memorial Day a holiday?

We talk about the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and celebrating Memorial Day. But "holiday" does not quite seem like the right term. Certainly it's not in the same vein as July 4.

Above all, Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor the sacrifices of those who died defending our country in war. It's a time to lift up those families whose daily grief we can not possibly understand.

For those who did not have a family member die in conflict, it's often a time to remember those close to us who have died. It's a time to put flowers on cemeteries, to visit a gravesite, to make a concerted effort to recognize those who are no longer here, but impacted our lives.

But I still see nothing wrong with also having cookouts, planned events, picnics, laughing and cutting up and simply having a good time. That's part of the freedoms Americans have died for through many wars. If they could, they would be grilling and pitching horseshoes as well on Monday. And departed family members would want the same thing. They wouldn't want their family spending the day in a somber mood.

Since 1971, Memorial Day has been recognized as a federal holiday on the last Monday of May after Congress voted it so in 1967. Before that it was "Decoration Day," before more began to recognize and call this time "Memorial Day" after World War II.

A holiday? Not in the sense that we traditionally think of what a holiday is. But yet it's a time to remember and honor those no longer with us, and then enjoy the rest of the day as they would want us to.

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