Memorial Day, 2020 Edition

And we thought Mother’s Day was strange.

The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up, and the flowers are blooming.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the official start of the American Summer.

Marked by parades, cookouts, retail sales, the end of school, and the opening of the public pools.

Not this year.  Parades and pools are on ice indefinitely, and school ended abruptly weeks ago.  Cookouts have so many rules—masks, six feet, no touching—that they’re hardly worth the trouble.  Who knew we’d have occupancy limits in our own backyards? 

At least we still have sales.

I think we can officially add “holiday retail sales” to the list of things you can always count on, which previously included only death and taxes.

I like Memorial Day.  I like the summer holiday trio best—Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.  They’re patriotic, they’re celebrated with cookouts and parades and fireworks, and they’re free of all the emotional landmines and family drama that accompany the Big Five—Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Father’s Day, and (as previously discussed in these very electronic pages) Mother’s Day. 

But just like Easter and Mother’s Day, 2020 Memorial Day is going to be different.  (I think we’re all sensing a theme here.)

But perhaps Memorial Day is the holiday best suited for this pandemic.  For as everyone knows and forgets when they’re at their cookout (myself included), Memorial Day is for honoring those in our military who gave their lives for our country.

It’s a solemn holiday at its heart, best illustrated by photos of Arlington Cemetery, the graves dotted with American flags.

It’s a holiday that celebrates patriotism and self-sacrifice, and pays tribute to those who’ve died in service to our safety, our security, and our ideals.

In the time of the coronavirus, so much has been made about the bravery and calm professionalism of the doctors and nurses working in the hardest hit areas.  Some of them have also died protecting their fellow man.

As we approach an inevitable 100,000 American deaths from this disease, tomorrow I plan to take a moment to honor all of those who have died while trying to keep others safe, whether they wore a military uniform or not.

Just this once, I don’t think the soldiers will mind.

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