A few conflicting stories exist about the origins of what we in the USA now celebrate as “Memorial Day”, the 30th of May. In my meandering search I have noticed that the overlapping part of the “Venn diagram” among the stories is that the 30th of May was once called, “Decoration Day” a commemoration of the (un)Civil War. It was a time to lay flowers on the graves of the fallen of both the Union and the Confederacy.
Perhaps the idea of a commemoration of the most destructive war this nation has ever seen arose concurrently in both the former combatants territories and slowly pushed up into the national ego as part of the national mourning process. As more tomorrows became history it seemed so “right” to mourn all the losses from all the wars America has ever fought at this time, so the day was renamed, “Memorial Day”. Now, we can freely mourn all our losses: my great grandmother’s war, the Civil War; my grandmother’s war, WWI; my mother’s war, WWII; my war, Vietnam; my daughter’s war, Afghanistan. Somehow, the morrigan sorrow manages to scrape her bony finger across the face of every generation.
I consign it to legend; something lost in our country’s misty, schizophrenic memory. Every election year the “Land of The Free and the Home of the Brave” rolls over in her sleep and the nightmares about the Civil War come back. She has generally forgotten what the commemoration was originally about, but hangs on to the “celebration” part. So, over the years, Memorial Day has become simply the party that kicks off the summer.
So, while cleaning the grill, skewering the kabobs and marinating the steaks,please consider that Memorial Day is about remembering. It might be a good day to mourn any/all kinds of loss including personal ones. I do not suggest anyone lay flowers at a former job’s doorstep even though that would be crazy-cool and maybe some much needed closure would happen. Maybe buying a personal bouquet would help speed the healing of an emotional wound.
Personally, I bought a very small, but significant gift for myself with the last paycheck of each job I lost. On Memorial Day, I look at the gifts and remember. Remarkably, one by one, year by year, I find the original outrage and pain suffered in those jobs has given way to peace and forgiveness.
May Memorial Day fill you with peace.