Is it okay to say, Happy Memorial Day?
I am the son, grandson, and brother of combat veterans. As a former Navy pilot myself, this holiday has special significance.
This is a day set aside to honor those who died serving our country. But for many Americans, it has become little more than a three-day weekend, filled with backyard barbecues and door-buster mattress sales.
For those who see this day of remembrance being trivialized, it is easy to take offense at the suggestion that there is anything “happy” about it.
Except I do not know a single veteran or first-responder who expects the country to mark this holiday with 24 hours of uninterrupted sadness. A few years ago, I spent Memorial Day at a military cemetery visiting my grandfather’s grave. Though I was there to grieve, I could not help but recall stories that made me laugh—like when his plane’s emergency raft deployed in mid-flight, and his machine gunner nearly shot off the tail trying to deflate it. These days, when I reminisce with my buddies about friends who did not come home from war, of course we share our sadness, but the stories we most often tell are ones that bring us joy.
That is how our friends would want it.
When I think about those who died serving in the military, I remember why they joined in the first place. They did it to defend a way of life, one that includes the pursuit of happiness as a founding ideal.
To be sure, we could use a bit more reverence this weekend. A moment of silence before we dig into our hamburgers. Fewer shopping sprees. But unrelenting grief? None of my buddies would have wanted that. Pick-up truck discounts, pie-eating contests, and the freedom to be happy are all part of what they fought and died for.
So from my family to yours, on this beautiful holiday weekend, have a blessed and happy Memorial Day.