Memorial Day 2012 – Put Down That Plate Of Barbecue And Think About Today

From where I sit this morning, there are no “Buy one, get one free, sales” and no families planning a cookout or any opening day festivities at the neighborhood pool. No one here is celebrating the end of the school year or the beginning of summer. It’s just another Monday. I’m not even sure my friends in UK community know what today is in the US. I don’t expect them to, but it’s kind of lonely in a way.

Today is Memorial Day in America and it’s national holiday meant to remember those who died in wars or other military conflicts. It always occurs on the last Monday in May creating a three-day weekend for vacation-hungry Americans and while it was never intended as a day for shopping or beer drinking and pool-side fun, 147 years after its post Civil War beginnings, that is all Memorial Day means to many people. I will confess that before I moved to the UK and despite having served in the Army myself, I tended to fall into the category of seeing it as a much needed day off from work.

I’ve realized how important the day itself is having watched the Remembrance Day ceremonies here in the UK for those who died in wartime. It occurs every November 11 when the leaves are gone and the sky is more likely to be grey, all of which adds to the solemnness of the occasion. People are primarily focused on honoring the war dead on that day with rituals and traditions that remain much the same as they have since WWI ended and Remembrance Day began.

I wish our Memorial Day had more focus on the sacrifice that inspired it and less on shopping and summer celebrations.

This is not my first Memorial Day post and it’s interesting to see the progression of my thoughts since moving to Cornwall. You can read more if you’d like by clicking the links for 2010 & 2011. In 2010, I wrote about Eleanor Grace Alexander and later about my great-uncle, Hugh Lee Stephens who died in France just before the end of WWII.

If you have someone you remember on this day and would like to share them with us, please leave their name in comment below or if you’ve written a Memorial Day post, feel free to leave a link.


8 thoughts on “Memorial Day 2012 – Put Down That Plate Of Barbecue And Think About Today

  1. I think another thing that adds to the solemnity of the UK’s November Remembrance Day is the fact that it’s not a holiday, it’s just a few minutes on the 11th and on the Sunday – so it doesn’t have the festive feel. And as you say, the grey sky – and the red poppies – are always pretty solemn. (Personally, I’m fine until they play Elgar’s “Nimrod” on the Remembrance Day stuff on TV, and then I cry. That piece just … gets to me.)

  2. I think there are plenty of Americans who celebrate the start of summer every Memorial weekend. Some who actually know what Memorial Day is all about and some who only know of kegs and ribs. For those who know what today means, I do find it suiting to observe the fallen and their sacrifice, but also celebrate the freedom we enjoy because of their sacrifice. Spending quality time with family and friends.

  3. Between the silliness of pronunciation and the solemnity of Remembrance Day, I sent a reply re ‘Mrln’. If we’re now on to Elgar’s Enigma Variations, I rest my case. Praise Be! You have to be pretty tough ‘and ‘stiff-upper-lipped’ not be touched by Nimrod! Well done to bring us back to the real reason for these remembrances Miriam Joy, I’m sure you get delight with the other beautiful and very British variations as well!.

  4. This was so lovely….from the words to the pictures. Thank you for reminding us what the real point of Memorial Day is all about.

    Yes, we’re all thinking about the start of summer…..but we really need to say thank you to the men and women who pay the greatest price every day of the year for our freedom.

  5. Thank you for your service. 🙂
    Your pictures of the memorials are lovely. I really loved the Korean Memorial when I saw it! Haunting.


  6. Elizabeth,

    What a thoughtful post! Thank you for writing. And, from a fellow Vet (retired AF), I thank you for your service.
    Like you, I once only looked at Memorial Day as 1) the beginning of summer and 2) a nice long weekend. It wasn’t until I got older that the meaning finally soaked in.

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