Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day

I’m not so sure the Russians have it wrong. Their May 9th Victory Day observance is somewhat similar to our Memorial Day. It is also known as “the holiday with tears in our eyes.” The main purpose of Victory Day was the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWI where 27 million soviets died. During their observances Red Square is taken over by a parade of 20,000 soldiers and 100 vehicles as well as aircraft. The uneducated see it as a way of parading their military prowess before the world and putting on display what they have to destroy all enemies. I see it as a proper way of honoring the holiday.

How seriously do we take it here??

We get the 4th Monday off in May (as near to May 30th as we sometimes can get) with the purpose of celebrating the soldiers who have died in the service of the country. This 3, or sometimes, even 4 day weekend is seen as the official “kickoff” of the summer season where people hit the beaches and barbecue everything in the refrigerator.  Sadly, many people don’t even know the distinction between Memorial Day being to honor the dead and Veterans Day in November honors all who have served in the military during time of war and peace.

Comedian Heywood Banks shot an arrow right through the bullseye on this one.   His short 56 second song about Memorial Day comes off as being funny, (and is truly ironic that such a serious message is coming from a comedian) but it actually should make you think about how we actually celebrate Memorial Day and how we perceive ourselves as celebrating Memorial Day.

Please Listen here  ——> Heywood Banks on Memorial Day

I was disgusted by one ad I found on the internet which so proudly read, “The federal government gave you Monday off to celebrate those who have died for our military.  But that’s no reason you can’t spend Memorial Day weekend hitting the sales too!  There’s nothing quite as patriotic as boosting our nation’s economy, am I right?”

First they didn’t die for the military.  They died for America… for our freedom…. the freedom so you (and I ) have the right to do what we want to.  Even if that means spending money on mattresses and tires, you have the right as an American to do that and I have the right to complain about how retailers capitalize on it.  It’s not only today.  I know that people will put on a sale for just about anything in order to get business.  My take is that I just wish people would take it more seriously sometimes and not try to polarize everything in a political way such as, “I’m against the war in Iraq so I’m not celebrating Memorial Day.”

This last video I want to share is a bit longer.  Vice President Joe Biden is speaking before a gold star audience of people who have lost a loved one in the military.  I find it to be very encouraging. (There might be a short ad you have to sit through first)

VP Biden Speech for T.A.P.S  

Uncle Sam

Tear of Grief

I leave one computer at work just to come home and sit in front of my own for hours on end.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this ritual as I see more than half the world wears glasses now.  I can tell when I check my email and it says I have 24 messages that it’s either been a busy day on Facebook or my friend is back online and forwarding me a ton of emails. Mostly they are jokes, political satire, occasionally dirty, religious chain letters or cute animals.

In that mess of emails, one caught my eye a few weeks ago.  It was called tear drop and inside was a link to a slide show called Russia_Honor_US911.  After watching it, I was completely dumbfounded, flabbergasted, taken aback.  I was completely clueless, in the dark.  In other words I had no idea that Russia had designed and given the United States a memorial for the September 11th terror attacks.  I actually was a little embarrassed that I could call myself a person who is current with Russian events and didn’t know, but no one talks about it.  I’m pretty sure I would have remembered it on the news, even five years ago.  Think about the gesture of the Russian Federation and then how a lot of the views of the relations between our countries are skewed by the media.  It’s kind of ironic that we criticize Russia’s version of democracy and control over the media, yet look what our news outlets did in failing to cover this story.  It’s not much different if you ask me.  It’s all selective news.  It’s only important if THEY want you to know about it.    I’d appreciate you taking just 14 minutes out of your life to watch the presentation below.

 

It also isn’t said very often that President Putin was the first person to call President Bush.  (This is a good informational link because it tells you what happened and then puts the source of the information after. http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?day_of_9/11=bush&timeline=complete_911_timeline )

While not related to the memorial video I want you to watch above, and I realize this is a late post for the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, it was one of my generation’s “where were you and what were you doing moment.”  Such as “Where were you when the space shuttle Challenger exploded?” Sick in bed, coloring and watching the news. or “Where were you when the first war with Sadaam Hussein started?” In a gun store with my dad.  So now, “Where were you on 9/11 (or as Alan Jackson’s put it…when the world stopped turning on that September day)?”

I was working on my first college degree as a paralegal in 2001.  For some reason that I vaguely remember as my instructor cancelling class due to a personal obligation relating to his own law practice, I had the day off.  I was catching up on some much needed rest until, in my twilight, I could hear my mom grab hold of the railing and came barreling up the stairs.  I remember rolling over, irritated- ready to tell her to leave me along and that I hadn’t overslept for school.

“New York is under attack!” she said.  Changing my perception of what she could possibly want from me so early in the morning, I mumbled that it was too early for a baseball game.  Clearly my priorities were shifted to baseball.

I didn’t see any of the planes hit either towers in real time.  I didn’t know what to make of it.  I didn’t cry, but I was scared. The tears came weeks later.  I remember seeing it that day, but hadn’t again on any other footage montage.  Mayor Rudy Gulianni was out in the streets with a large group of people behind him and gathering more as he went along and did his best to lead them to safety.  I myself, didn’t feel safe until later that night when I saw President Bush address the nation from the Oval Office.  It was reported that Bush 41 was actually stuck in Milwaukee when all the planes were grounded (as told to Larry King by Barbara Bush http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0310/25/lkl.00.html). Our family tried to be prepared for whatever might happen next.  We each went to the bank and withdrew a modest amount of money, purchased extra bottled water, as well as went to fill up our cars with gas.  That would prove smart as prices jumped over $6 later that day until stations were fined for doing so and had to re-standardize the prices.  Walmart remained open so I went to work, but all I did was stand in the electronics department watching the TV’s.  No one was really shopping.  Major League baseball shut down so I didn’t have to go to my job there.

This year the National Geographic cable channel had a show on called George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview, a world premiere documentary that reveals exclusive, first-person insight into the former president’s experience following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.  I sat with my family to watch it.  I’m glad the living room lights were off because I couldn’t stop crying though most of the show.  I wasn’t sobbing, but I couldn’t hold back the tears from rolling down my cheeks.   Maybe it was because I had heard pieces of his story before, about being woken up in the middle of the night and rushing to safety in the White House with Barney in his arms, or thinking about the hundreds of photos of the President at ground zero with grief stricken family members, where he had to be strong while the rest of us cried.