Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day - For The Fallen


Today, of all days, do not thank me, or anyone you know or meet, for our service.
Do not rob the graves of heroes to pay respects to those whom you do not owe.
(And don't, by all that's holy, wish anyone a "Happy Memorial Day", unless you would be looked upon as a cretin, a ghoul, or a fool.)
If you would be thankful today, your debt is owed at the local cemetery, especially a military one, wherein peacefully rest legions of men better than you or I, who gave up all their tomorrows to give you your today.
No one can ever repay that debt, but at the least, you can keep up the payments, by honoring their service, by bearing the account they gave well in mind, and rendering unto them all the respect and civic glory such a sacrifice has earned.
Don't hesitate to take the weekend off, and enjoy a ball game, a picnic, a cold beer, or a hot meal. Just, please, fondly and respectfully recall those in mud, cold, tropical heat, or desert sun, and living in dirt like animals, who already paid the bill for your leisure this weekend.
Little else you could ever do would mean as much, and it's all common courtesy requires.


If you are able,
save them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always.
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own.
And in that time
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind.

Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
1 January 1970
Dak To, Vietnam
KIA Cambodia 24 March 1970

1 comment:

Mike_C said...

Well said, thanks. Sure enough, yesterday morning I got a mass email* from some for-profit (NTTAWWT) medical continuing education group with the header "Happy Memorial Day from REDACTED!"
*It's not exactly spam since I did attend one of their courses (which was pretty good, actually) when they gave our group a promotional free pass years ago. Didn't use it for CME though. Anyway, I sent the following in reply to the latest atrocity. We'll see if I get a response (or taken off the mailing list, which would bother me not a whit).

Thank you for the Memorial Day greeting. While I am certain it was meant kindly, it is nonetheless cringeworthy. Memorial Day is the day we remember those who died while serving in our nation's armed forces. As such, "happy" does not seem to be the best modifier for Memorial Day. Also, please note that Memorial Day does not pertain to living veterans (that would be Veterans Day), so while a "thank you for your service" is almost always appropriate, I would humbly note that it might be better to NOT say anything in the vein of "we thank our veterans" on Memorial Day, lest we forget the purpose of this day of remembrance.

Just a suggestion, but in future you may consider something such as "Memorial Day Greetings from REDACTED. Please join us in remembrance and gratitude for those who gave all in service to our nation."