Today, I pause to say a prayer of thanks for my dad (Vietnam), his friends Phil and Dave (Vietnam), my grandfather (WWII), my cousin Brian (reserves), and my friend’s boyfriend Sean (Iraq). Luckily, all these men decided to choose to fight for freedom – if not directly ours, that of our brothers and sisters around the world. But I take this space to pause and say something to those who deride the way Americans celebrate Memorial Day.
Many of us celebrate with BBQs and ice cold drinks or take a trip to the pool or the beach and spend time with friends and/or family. Why? Because for many of us, Memorial Day is the first day of pause from 50+-hour work week, and there is no shame in celebrating our lives. We all have been affected by the work of soldiers, even if we have to reach back a generation or two. I like to think that those who died fighting would smile on us, their heirs. I think they like knowing we’re reveling in quality time with friends and family, that we’re taking advantage of what they made possible.
Alas, some of us must work, especially retailers. Don’t judge us or decry those who patronize our stores. For many retail employees, paid time off is only a dream. If the store closes, they don’t get paid for the day, which could seriously affect the weekly budget. Why sales? We know people will be out and about and the more we attract to shop, the more we feel like we can keep the economy chugging. Why shop? People exist in this world who can never afford to pay full price for anything. This weekend has become a tradition in that people can count on it for a deal, the likes of which aren’t seen until Labor Day, a long, hot quarter-of-a-year away.
No matter how we spend today, let us all pause, even if for just a moment, and be thankful for the soldiers of yesterday and today, and also for each other. Let’s prove who we are and what we do are worth fighting for tomorrow.