Memorial Day 2021

There was outrage in some quarters about Vice President Kamala Harris’ twit last Saturday.

How dare she? No, not gratuitously twit a pic of herself, because who doesn’t want to see another pic of Kamala as twitted by Kamala? No, because this isn’t just a long weekend, but Memorial Day weekend. It was a dumb grievance, and that’s coming from someone who has never had a good thing to say about Harris. There is nothing about wishing people enjoy the long weekend that precludes remembering our fallen servicemen and women, and it was an entirely normal thing to say, even if the pic was gratuitous. After all, it wasn’t yet Memorial Day and she’s still Kamala.

But I checked her twitter feed before writing this post and there was nothing there about Memorial Day, about Americans who sacrificed their lives for their nation. Maybe her people will get around to it later. Maybe it won’t include a pic of her. Maybe.

I checked President Biden’s twitter feed as well. Nothing. The day’s still young, of course, so it seems likely to appear later. Biden gave a speech at the War Memorial Plaza in Delaware on Sunday, as he has for decades, after attending a memorial mass for his son, Beau, a vet. He plans to do the same at Arlington National Cemetery today.

Then I checked the front page of my local paper, the New York Times. Nothing.

Have we forgotten why we celebrate Memorial Day? Have we dismissed the sacrifice of men and women for their country? Is it no longer fashionable? Have the men and women who gave their lives for their nation been pushed aside to make room for other concerns?

This weekend is also the 100th Anniversary of the horrific Tulsa Massacre in Greenwood, a fact of American history that was, until recently, largely erased from our national memory. That every American wasn’t taught about the Tulsa Massacre in grade school is a travesty, and one that demands correction. But this critical part of our history can be remembered without forgetting Memorial Day. We can do both. We must do both.

Perhaps some are reimagining Memorial Day. Perhaps it, like so many other things American, is problematic now, because it doesn’t denigrate America or remind us of what a terrible nation we were, and how nothing we ever did was any good. Maybe everything we ever did was awful, for awful purposes and to be awful to others. Maybe remembering the people who died because an awful nation called upon them to sacrifice their personal safety, welfare and future, is tainted by American awfulness. It’s hard for me to say what this reimagining means to others, as I don’t share this desire to diminish reality.

Instead, I remember those who died for their country.

For the second year in a row, there will be no local parade. I always went to the parade. It was one of those things about small town America that I loved. It will be missed, and I sincerely hope it will be back next year. At the end of the parade, vets lay wreaths at a memorial and, here at least, float them over the water. That was something that mattered a great deal to my father who, in 2007, started Wreaths Over The Water. He remembered his comrades who didn’t return from the Ardennes Forest in World War II, and the young boys who came home in flag-draped boxes from Vietnam. He made sure I would remember as well.

Enjoy the long weekend. Just don’t forget that the reason we have this long weekend is to remember Americans who gave their lives to their nation. To us. I remember. Don’t let these men and women be forgotten or reimagined because other things have become more trendy than honoring them.

25 thoughts on “Memorial Day 2021

  1. Kirk A Taylor

    I didn’t see it on her feed (I avoid twitter) but Fox screenshotted it in a typical article slamming her original tweet. Time on the tweet was 7 am.

  2. Hunting Guy

    Taps.

    “Day is done, gone the sun
    From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
    All is well, safely rest
    God is nigh

    Fading light dims the sight
    And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
    From afar, drawing near
    Falls the night

    Thanks and praise for our days
    Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
    As we go, this we know
    God is nigh”

  3. Skink

    Memorial Day remains the only of our non-religious national holidays created by regular people. You can look it up. Whether it was women in Gettysburg, Virginia or Ohio laying flowers on the graves of of soldiers from both sides of the Civil War, it was created by them. The government didn’t crowd the field for more than 100 years after regular people decided it was the right thing to do.

    And it won’t happen again. The reality of history has been replaced by the reality TV version and idiocy. The reasons for the wars, the impetus behind young men dropping everything, including career plans and family, to react to humanity’s need is speedily rewritten. The knowledge base of history is eroded to the point where WWII might as well have been about which country would get control of space alien treasure; Korea and Vietnam, restaurants.

    So twitsters get pissed off at Harris because she ignored the meaning of the Day. I wonder if they have any idea.

    Dad worked a factory job, sticking parts on aircraft engines for Ford. He had a baby daughter, the first of our seven. There was no money. Then he was in the Army Air Corps, in China, in the parts overrun. Mother and daughter lived with his parents. For the rest of his life, if we had Chun King from a can, he had hamburger. It wasn’t racial; it was what he experienced. I’m sure-as-shit glad he isn’t part of what the Day is really about. I’m certainly thankful for those that are. Without them, where would I be? Would I be?

    And I miss the parade. Maybe that’s something we can fix. Who am I kidding?

    1. Hunting Guy

      Peter Grant.

      “ May the souls of our honored dead rest in God’s peace; and may those they left behind receive what comfort they may from a grateful nation. Even if the nation as a whole is forgetting its debt to them, we who served remember them, and we will keep their memory alive as long as we are. May others take the torch from our hands when the time comes, and keep it aloft.”

  4. L. Phillips

    A time to remember the faces of Marines I was lucky to serve with and who will remain ever young.

  5. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    As I think about Memorial Day, and your post, I remember that I escaped Vietnam because a doctor said stuff about my health. I coulda gone. So Memorial Day is a day of shame for me. And, of course, it’s always about me.

    One of the very few WWII stories I remember from my father is why he he was not entitled to the Purple Heart that my grandmother kept in a little case lined with velvet. I happened upon the medal at my grandmother’s home and then asked Dad about it.

    Seems he was guarding German POWs and he got hung up in some barb wire. His blood poisoning was bad enough that they flew him to France from Africa and gave him a month or two in a cushy (so he said) hospital. My father was many things, but unlike his eldest son, he was not a coward or a narcissist.

    Thank for the post, though it hurts. All the best.

    RGK

    1. SHG Post author

      I was too young to be drafted, but I felt survivors guilt nonetheless. My father brought home two purple hearts, as well as a good conduct medal and a bronze star with oak leaf cluster. He was most proud of his good conduct medal. He told me it took no courage to get shot.
      null

    2. PseudonymousKid

      Don’t feel to bad Judge. At least you didn’t have a chance to bring shame. I mean the fucking Navy surrendered to Iran in 2016. That’s way more shameful than being medically unfit. I’m afraid I’d have been a coward shot as an example to the rest. At least its fantasy for me. I’m thankful for that.

      I’m watching Rambo: First Blood today. Got any movie recommendations of your own?

        1. PseudonymousKid

          It’s ok Pa, you can’t be perfect at everything you do.

          My other father would have turned a key on command that would have killed millions and caused incredible suffering. My grandfather lived a strange, lovely life during the cold war in bombers with nuclear bombs, one of which was in the air at all times over the arctic ready to destroy the USSR whenever we decided to. He also participated in bombing North Korea until we had no targets left to bomb civilians be damned. They had the whole world in their hands. I think that was the zenith for my family. I’ll never come close to that much raw power myself.

          So today brings a mix of pride, awe, shame, horror, and a sense that we shouldn’t be making any more veterans who have to sacrifice personally for goals greater than they are. It’s a good time to reflect on our massive investment in this military complex we maintain and its history. Despite my personal shortcomings, I do try to keep things in perspective. You didn’t do all that bad, but I’m biased.

  6. Kathleen Casey

    My mother joined the WAC 1944-46. The Army put her to work making dentures and false eyes and we can imagine what for.

    It was creative use of her WPA Art Institute training in our home city evenings for two years. The dentures were all lab work. But she was required to visit the wounded boys and men in hospital wards so as to see their faces and match the hopefully surviving eye. Her powers as an artist were needed in service to our country.

    Dad on the other hand was mustered out of boot camp on a 4F medical discharge with good character in1944. Asthma. His unit was sent to Anzio. Slaughtered to a man.

    Mom mentioned that she usually heard the instruction, half-serious, Make it good and bloodshot, honey. I’m staying drunk after this! Dad would say, You would be half of what you are today! After a beer or two. Three. A difficult memory for him.

    I always thought my parents’ stories are remarkable. I am thankful toward all who survived, and all who died. Kamala? Sleepy Joe? I sneer.

  7. KeyserSoze

    My parents were both in the AF when they married in the 1950’s. My father was a Flight Engineer on KC-97s and C-141s all they way through Vietnam. He had been drafted for Korea but never made it past Okinawa. My mother was discharged when she had me, as was common at the time. Dad made it 20+ years and retired. He was in and out of Vietnam all time. He hated the “coffin flights” and the MEDEVACS and would never talk about them.

    My mom’s brother AKA “batshit crazy uncle” lied about his age, joined the the Army and made it to the Korean war with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. To this day he does not talk about it. He later went into the Air Force as a Combat Controller and did three tours in Vietnam, including Khe Sahn. He is 87 now and does not talk about Vietnam that much either.

    Batshit crazy uncle’s wife was a native Okinawan born in June of 1941 on the island of Saipan to a member of the IJN as a result of a forced marriage. She was evacuated back to Okinawa at age three where she became a war orphan and was on the the streets at the age of five.

    I did six active USN during the Cold War. I remember we had one seaman the Deck Boss wanted to do something for so he got him transferred to a deploying destroyer. The kid just wanted to be a bosun mate on a destroyer, just like has dad. He was a good kid. There was a hurricane coming into Hono and while the deck gang was securing the anchor for sea, a wave came over the bow, threw him into the superstructure, and broke his neck. He died instantly. My last deployment with a battle group lost only five people due to aviation mishaps and suicides. Its dangerous out there even in peacetime.

    All service members give up their irreplaceable time. Some give lives, bodies, and minds. Let us remember them all and be grateful for them.

  8. CLS

    As long as I can I’ll teach my children the importance of this day.

    My father in law would beat my ass if I didn’t.

  9. Mark Dwyer

    To return to the original topic: Ms. Harris joined Mr. Biden at Arlington National Cemetery today, to honor our war dead.

    When did we begin to measure folks’ respect for fallen soldiers by what they tweet?

    1. SHG Post author

      The outrage at Harris’ benign twit was ridiculous. She and Biden did what a president and vice should do on Memorial Day.

    2. Sgt. Schultz

      Was that the “original topic” or a rhetorical device to show how we’ve strayed from the original topic of honoring those men and women who have given their lives?

      We measure our elected officials respect by what they say and do, whether it’s on twitter or in a state of the union speech. While I agree that the outrage of Harris’ tweet was absurd, she’s no more immune from criticism over her tweets than Trump was.

Comments are closed.