Abolish Memorial Day
Author’s note: I had actually started to write a Memorial Day column when I looked up this piece from 2012, which says almost precisely what I intended to say. When you’ve been writing a column covering foreign affairs for over twenty years, as I have, repetition is inevitable, but what follows captures my view of this holiday and its contemporary meaning so completely that I decided to give it to my readers, rather than attempt to replicate the same thoughts albeit in different words.
We might as well get rid of Memorial Day, for all the good it does us. Originally “Decoration Day,” the last Monday in May has been the designated time for us to remember the war dead and honor their sacrifice – while, perhaps, taking in the lessons of the many conflicts that have marked our history as a free nation. In line with the modern trend of universal trivialization, however, the holiday has been paganized to mark the beginning of summer, when we get out the barbecue grill and have the neighbors over for hamburgers and beer. As for contemplating the meaning of the day in the context of our current and recent wars, that is left to those few pundits who pay attention to foreign policy issues, or else to writers of paeans to the “Greatest Generation” – World War II being the only modern war our panegyrists deign to recall, since it is relatively untouched by the ravages of historical revisionism.