Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

As I read an office memo this week as we approach the Memorial Day week-end, I read, “Have a safe and happy holiday.”

Again I was reminded of the importance of this week-end and the often unthinking expression used to wish someone a happy week-end. Is it appropriate to wish someone a “happy week-end” on Memorial Day? Just what does Memorial Day celebrate or, better, commemorate?

I remember my “learning experience” bout the Memorial Day week-end some 40 years ago. At the time I was a life insurance salesman in the Chicago Loop, and I had taken an insurance client to our doctor for an insurance physical on the Friday afternoon preceding the Memorial Day week-end. As we left the doctor’s office after the examination, I thanked the doctor and wished him a nice week-end.

The look of surprise on his face told me that I had not said the right thing. He and I never spoke about it, but I “got” the message. Memorial Day is not about having a “nice” week-end. It is about remembering the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in battle for us, so that we can be free and safe in our homeland.

And so I ask you to consider what expression is appropriate for this week-end. Many people don’t think about the words they use and will routinely say, “Have a nice holiday.” Would a better choice of words be, “Have a solemn, respectful and safe holiday.”

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