Memorial Day: Solemn or Party Time?
It’s nearly Memorial Day, and if you’re like many Americans you’ve already got plans for that precious three-day weekend. You’re not sure of the exact details, but you know it will involve some quality grilling, cold drinks and a lot of relaxing.
You also know that Memorial Day is really a time to honor those who gave their lives to make all that fun and relaxation possible. Should you feel guilty about using Memorial Day to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures?
Not at all. In fact, it’s part of the holiday’s history.
Memorial Day was created in the aftermath of the Civil War as a way to honor the fallen. It didn’t take long for it to turn into a party, however. By the late 1800’s, it was already a time to celebrate the spring by going out for a picnic, attending a sporting event or even visiting Coney Island. In 1972, Time Magazine remarked that the holiday had become “a three-day nationwide hootenanny that seems to have lost much of its original purpose.”
There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun though. Even back then, the New York Times noted that Memorial Day’s real function “to stimulate patriotism,” did not necessarily mean there couldn’t be “patriotic joy” as well.
So, yes you can have your cake and eat it too. You can enjoy your holiday outing guilt-free as many Americans have since the beginning, but while you’re at it, do take a moment to reflect on the original meaning of the day and those who made it possible.