There was outrage in some quarters about Vice President Kamala Harris’ twit last Saturday.
Enjoy the long weekend. pic.twitter.com/ilGOrod4AW
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 29, 2021
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.