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Not Happy Memorial Day

Updated: May 28

Good Morning My Confidants

And Happy Memorial Day.

Is that proper?

Because it's not a happy thing that people died because of war. It's not a happy thing the people have to fight for what's right and what is theirs.

Is it genetic? Animals do fight. Even ants go to war.

But as humans, is it not our destiny to rise above our baser nature? Or do we embrace everything we are?

But you know, I think that's a topic for another day.

Today is...are we supposed to say "happy" Memorial Day?

According to a surprisingly excellent article in "People" magazine, "....military personnel have asked that civilians not wish people a 'Happy Memorial Day.'

"Memorial Day descends from the Southern tradition of 'Decoration Day,' when families traveled to the cemeteries where their ancestors were interred to place flowers on their graves... Often, large groups of extended families made the trip, religious ceremonies took place, and food was served.

"Memorial Day—as we know it—was established on May 5, 1868, when...General John A. Logan...declared May 30 to be Memorial Day and make it an annual occurrence.

"Some hold that the day was observed because it was the anniversary of a specific battle. In 2010, President Barack Obama's Memorial Day speech....referenced the date being chosen because it was when flowers were optimally in bloom for decorating graves.

"Memorial Day as a national holiday did not become common until after World War II and wasn't even designated as the holiday's official name until 1967. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved Memorial Day from its fixed date (along with three other holidays) to the last Monday in May."

And finally....

"Memorial Day is not—as Veterans Day is—a blanket remembrance of those who have served in the nation's armed forces.... It is specifically designated to honor those who have died while serving the country...

"...U.S. Marine Tony Bundschuh [stated on this] idea: 'There is a difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Veterans Day is the one where we give thanks to all that have served, but Memorial Day is supposed to be a somber day set aside for remembrance of those that have died serving their country. It is not a happy day.'

"Former SEAL Kevin Lacz [said] 'Memorial Day needs to be a solemn remembrance of the brave Americans who have laid down their lives for the freedom we cherish. Frankly, the mere act of putting on the uniform isn't heroic. As Americans, we have begun to overuse the word "hero." I stand by my claim that the real heroes are the men and women who don't come home. Memorial Day is for them.'*

So.... What should we say instead of "happy" Memorial Day?

I love Google! Using it, I found this....

"Instead of saying, “Happy Memorial Day,” there are alternative greetings you can use that pay homage to the true meaning of Memorial Day. They include:

-I hope your Memorial Day is meaningful.

-I wish you an enjoyable weekend where you remember those who are no longer with us.

-Please join me in remembering the fallen soldiers who are no longer with us this weekend." **

Powerful stuff.

But before I "log off," I also, as a gay man, ask you to remember our fallen GLBTQ+ soldiers who gave up their lives, many who were never able to be open about who they really were.

"They marched like everyone else. They fought like everyone else. ... And they died, like everyone else. ... [we need to] express our pride in the men, women, gender nonconforming and non-binary individuals who died for our freedom ... as that, too, is our right as Americans." ***

I hope you remember the purpose of this holiday and enjoy your time with family and friends.

With love,


BG "Gentle Ben" Thomas

* Why You Shouldn't Wish People a 'Happy Memorial Day' and More About the Reflective Holiday, by Alex Heigl:,a%20%22Happy%20Memorial%20Day.%22

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