Reader view: A greeting for Memorial Day May 2024

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I cringe each time I hear, “Happy Memorial Day!” For those who have lost a loved one on active military duty—the use of the word happy does not resonate with the magnitude of loss the commemoration represents. It is like wishing someone a “Happy Funeral.”

I recall a comment shortly after 9/11. “No, I don’t want that day to ever be a national holiday. I never want to hear an ad for a 9/11 Sale.” And think about it — the big ads for the Memorial Day Sales. What exactly is that all about? As a society, how do we come to accept this as the norm?

I certainly do not begrudge people using the three-day-weekend for get-a-ways with family and friends—i.e. the famous first summer barbecue. I bitterly remember the vacation payout check I received after my husband died in a helicopter crash while on active duty. That money represented precious time that we lost as a couple, as a family. I celebrate times for people to be together.

There are many ways to honor the memory of those who have sacrificed their lives for our country. Attending Memorial Day services or parades. Donating to the USO. Advocating for laws that fairly compensate armed forces jobs. Welcoming new service members into the neighborhood. Reaching out to offer support to a military family while their loved one is deployed. Relishing time with your own loved ones. Working and praying for peace.

Essayist Heather Cox Richardson posts a daily email, Letters from an American. She closed a recent Memorial Day Letter with “May you have a meaningful Memorial Day.” This sentiment rings true to me, as it is mindful of the occasion — to honor with gratitude those who died in service for our country—and for the opportunity to create new memories.

May you and yours have a meaningful Memorial Day.

— By Kizzie Jones

Kizzie Jones lives in Edmonds.

  1. Thank you Kizzie for your heartfelt thoughts.
    Yes, there is nothing “Happy” about losing a loved one. And it is because of our beloved veterans who gave their all for our country and freedom that we are here today going about our daily lives. Let us not ever forget that Freedom Isn’t Free – a precious price was paid for it – and not take it for granted.

    1. Thank you Theresa for your kind comments. I was especially touched by your closing thought,
      “… Freedom Isn’t Free – a precious price was paid for it – ”

      ️ We remember.

  2. And to that I say AMEN ….the memories and the music are heart wrenching…..always with you but more so
    when the visuals are prominent. Agreed, not a holiday but a reach out and touch someone kind of day.

  3. Beautifully written, Kizzie. I would add that Memorial Day is not the day to thank military members – active and retired – for their service. Memorial Day is THE day we should stop and quietly give thanks to those who served our great nation and sacrificed their lives for our liberty and freedom.

    1. Yes, Karen—you are absolutely correct— Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day, and Memorial Day each have their unique focus. With Memorial Day honoring and remembering those who died while in service.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  4. Thank you Kizzie. This is beautifully written. May you and yours have a meaningful Memorial Day.

    1. Dear Pat, what a tender caring reply- yes, I placed flowers at our Edmonds Veterans Plaza and took time to reflect and remember. I was touched a bench was dedicated to our local Gold Star Families.
      A meaningful Memorial Day, indeed.

      1. Dear Kizzie,
        Thank you for those kind words. I was the one who helped dedicate the Gold Star Families bench at the Veterans Plaza today. It was such a generous thing for the VFW to do for Gold Star Families.

  5. Kizzie, thank you. Your post helps me to realize the true meaning behind the holiday…to appreciate the great sacrifices that military families (such as yours) have made to keep this great country safe and free.

    1. Thank you Reni for reaching out with your support. Yes, our loved one gave the ultimate sacrifice— but the military families also are called to sacrifice in other ways. I was so touched today that a Gold Star Families Bench was dedicated today at our Edmonds Veterans Plaza.

  6. What a thoughtful and centering piece for us to reflect on this Memorial Day! With hope that, reading this, many will remember the real reason for this National Holiday and pause to thank all those who gave the ultimate for our freedom and peace.

    1. Dear Kay— your choice of using the word “centering” speaks to me as I experienced this day as one of balance: honoring and remembering with relishing life today.
      Thank you for your thoughtful reflection.

  7. Great thoughts from my former Bell Street Neighborhood good neighbor! Hello KIzzie. In my native Mid-West it was usually called “Decoration Day” and our family would often drive over a hundred fifty miles one way to put flowers on our Mom’s family’s graves and then spend another day driving the other direction about fifty miles from home to “decorate” our Dad’s family’s graves. It was definitely all about remembering loved ones as well as about honoring our service members who made the ultimate sacrifice. Bottom line, it was about love, not buying stuff or going camping – not that there is anything wrong with doing those things – but that love, duty, and sacrifice for others are much more important in the great scheme of things.

    1. I, too, remember when it was called “Decoration Day.” My Dad, who was a World War I veteran is buried, with my Mom, at Riverside National Cemetery. It’s a little too far for me to visit, so I go visit the grave of my Cousin-in-Law. at Holyrood Cemetery, Shoreline. His war was a little more recent, although I’m not quite sure which one, the unresolved Korean conflict (?), but the visit is just as meaningful, particularly since most of my side of the family is also buried nearby.

    2. I remember going to the cemetery with my grandmother, aunts, and probably a couple of cousins in rural Illinois, to trim the grass around family headstones, and put out flowers for Memorial Day. (I don’t remember calling it anything else.) It wasn’t 150 miles, but it was a day long event.

    3. Oh Clint! how I enjoyed being a Bell Street Neighbor to you and Pat! How touched I am that you responded with such moving memories from Memorial Days long past.

      Having grown up in the military we were never close to my family cemeteries so I didn’t have those experiences as a child.

      Even now my late husband is buried in his childhood hometown in California where I have only been able to visit a handful of times.

      Thankfully Edmonds has both the 11am service at our cemetery (where we saw each other – you attended with your Dad many years ago). There is also a 1:30pm service at our Veterans Plaza.

      I’m comforted by having a dedicated space to visit—to reflect and remember. And thankful it is so close by!

  8. Clinton, thank you for sharing these sweet and loving memories. You bring back memories of another time long ago with my family, neighbors, traditions, our parish priest. You’re so right, it’s not about buying things. It’s about the people, past and present, who have given us valuable life lessons, a foundation to build upon – character, respect-and bring love and joy into our lives.

    I’ll echo Kizzie’s words, Wishing you all a meaningful Memorial Day.

    1. Theresa, yes, yes. Your comment so touchingly reflected Clinton’s sentiments,

      “… It’s about the people, past and present, who have given us valuable life lessons, a foundation to build upon – character, respect-and bring love and joy into our lives.”

      Memorial Day carves out the gift of time to honor and remember…

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