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Monday, May 30, 2005

Happy Memorial Day...

That's what they say: "Happy Memorial Day".
If you've never heard of a paradox before, this would be it. It's Memorial Day in the States. This is the day Americans commemorate their fallen soldiers, who died in the name of America, freedom, and liberty. But, they say, Happy... I just don't get it.
You see, in the States , it's not just Memorial Day. It's Memorial Day week-end. That means that it's a long week-end for all workers and students. It's sales and BBQ's. Here, in Israel, all shops are closed, and every channel plays tributes and documentaries in commomeration of Yom Hazikaron. In the States, you go shopping. I don't know. It's like saying, "Hey, we're sorry a bunch of people died to protect us. I know! Let's honor their memory by buying some new Capris and tube tops!" Yes, the news shows ceremonies and stuff, but it doesn't seem like it's such a big deal. I love capitalism. I think a free market economy is the best system there is. However, I think there's a line that should be drawn. You don't honor a dead soldier by knocking 50% off your merchandise...
I'm at a loss for words b/c even before I moved to Israel, I always detested the way we were brought up to commemorate Memorial Day. There were no tributes on TV, only commercials for sales. I always felt that we, as Jews, were the only ones who really understood what it meant to honor the dead.
Now, as an Israeli, having seen my first Yom Hazikaron commemorated here, I really wish America would take a lesson in true commemoration. My father was a Marine. He served in Vietnam. He doesn't like to talk about it much, but I'm sure he lost friends in combat. I think he would more like to see what's done in Israel than see that Marshall Field's is having their biggest sale of the year.
In commemoration of the brave men and women that have given their lives, so that freedom will prevail and evil will fall:
By LCDR Kelly Strong, USCG - Copyright 1981

I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Service man saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin.
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.
May G-d bless and protect our soldiers.
G-d bless America.


At 8:24 PM, Blogger amechad said...

I linked to your blogpost in my blog with a few comments. (http://amechad.blogspot.com/2005/05/memorial-day.html)

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Chana said...

This post reminds me of something I wrote, accessible here:

Honestly, however, to attempt to get Americans to evince and show real emotion or even think about why they've got a day off work is impossible. If they had to go to work and engage in some kind of ceremony, they'd be unhappy, they're much more grateful to the dead for having given them a day off.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger menachem said...

they should advertise like that, you know?

we've cut down our prices like a german machine gun cuts down advancing infantry!

At 12:20 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Yeah, maybe they would sell more that way.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Just Shu said...

i had the same thought as I wished a toll guy a happy holiday..I mean the guy was working, he was probably wasnt enjoying the day

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Chai18 said...

think the difference between the way Israel and America commemorate, or in America celebrate, memorial day stems from the fact that in America the army is volunteer and so a much smaller percentage of the country has anyone or even knows anyone in the army as well most of the wars America has fought have never been for their existence, where as the opposite is true in Israel. also people in America are much more materialistic then in Israel, though not so much anymore

At 6:08 PM, Blogger dailyreader said...

Many years ago when the US Congress was beginning to debate a Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday as a national holiday, the television show Saturday Night Live did a very funny skit about Martin Luther King Day sales. The viewing public was shocked at the thought that a solemn holiday like that would turn into an occasion for shopping. Of course, now every January there are Martin Luther King Day sales, and every May there are Memorial Day sales. When I was a child memorial Day was called Decoration Day, and it was an occasion to decorate the graves of the fallen. As a little Southern girl I celebrated two holidays on two consecutive days - Decoration Day for US military dead and Confederate Memorial Day for the South's "glorious dead" (as my grandma called them. Grandma was what they call a "true daughter of the Confederacy". Her daddy fought the Union.)I do not go shopping on memorial Day.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Good for you, daily reader. I've actually been reading some stuff on the South and its rich military history. Up until now, I never though about it, but now I really appreciate the South's heritage of serving its country. I'm glad you understand where I'm coming from with this. You should check out dovbear.blogspot.com. He makes such a mockery of the day. He thinks I'm very unAmerican for thinking that Memorial Day should be a day to actually commemorate soldiers instead of shopping, BBQuing, and getting drunk. Thanks.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger DailyLinks said...

Free Online Printable Greeting Card


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