I’m annoyed. It’s Memorial Day and my inbox is filled with emails from stores saying the same thing in various ways…”Happy Memorial Day! Take 75% off your order!”. Two things strike me about this subject line:

  1. What about MEMORIAL Day says “happy”?
  2. What about MEMORIAL Day says “let’s shop!”
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Maybe this is the difference between my “millennial” generation and Gen Z, or maybe it’s just telling of our grief culture or lack thereof. Like many millennial’s, I grew up with grandparents that served in WWII. I spent every Memorial Day placing little flags on graves of those my grandpa served with in the Navy. I remember as a preschooler going to a Memorial Day ceremony with my family and hearing TAPS for the first time. Even as a 4 year old I knew that that somber trumpet call was something I should pay attention to. Many years later as a 22 year old attending my grandpa’s funeral, I would associate TAPS with a personal loss.

Why have we as American’s lost sight of the real reason for Memorial Day? The fact that many large retailers sent out hundreds of thousands of emails on Memorial Day wishing their patrons a “Happy Memorial Day!” tells me that we’ve lost touch. National retailers with –I’m assuming–a pretty big marketing team…not one person thought it was inappropriate to send happy wishes? If just one of those companies had written “Today we remember and for that reason, we’re having our biggest sale starting Tuesday!” or something like that, I would have not only bought something from them, but you can bet your ass I would have spread the message to all my friends.

I’m not saying that family’s have to dress in black and sit in a cemetery on their day off, but I do think it is our responsibility as Americans to not only recognize why Memorial Day exists, but to also recognize that their are millions of people that do grieve on this day. And to have a flood of marketing geared toward the public that says “on this day of remembrance, let’s buy sweaters for 75% off” kinda slaps them in the face. Am I wrong about this? Am I just old-fashioned? Am I too sensitive? Perhaps. But to me it says “Your dad died in Iraq for my freedom, but hey I got these designer sunglasses for HALF OFF”.

So I’ll continue our family tradition of placing flags on graves and I’ll pay more for my shoes, but you can be sure my 5 and 2 year old will understand what Memorial Day is about…

Thank you to the active military, veterans, and their families. We cherish you.

Mental health resources for veterans:

  • Military & Veteran’s Crisis Line 1.800.273.8255, Press 1
  • Crisis line text 838255
  • Vets 4 Warriors 855.838.8255
  • Military One Source 1.800.342.9647
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) 1.800.959.8277

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *