Monday, May 28, 2007

Why I Like Memorial Day

While it may seem like blasphemy coming from a marketer, one of the reasons I most like Memorial Day is because there is so little marketing hoopla associated with it.

I'm sure there are all sorts of Memorial Day sales going on - any hook to get people into the store or car lot and buy something - but I haven't really seen, heard, or paid attention to any of them.

No, on Memorial Day, the commercial impulse is thankfully at least somewhat muffled.

Other than the veterans, who are usually downtown selling Buddy Poppies. I haven't seen or heard any this year, but I haven't been downtown that much. Maybe I'll see one on this afternoon's walk. I will definitely be paying attention.

Memorial Day is a good holiday for a number of other reasons.

It's the official-unofficial kick-off to summer, and for those of us who live in regions with difficult weather - and New England falls into the category - the kick-off to summer (official or not) is always welcome.

It's a three-day weekend. Which it wasn't always. When I was a kid, Memorial Day was celebrate on May 30th. In 1971 (I just looked it up), it became the last Monday in May.

Which is fine by me, although I know that some traditionalists think that making Memorial Day into part of a three day weekend puts too much emphasis on the official-unofficial kick-off to summer with its emphasis on cook-outs, weekend getaways, and opening up your summer cottage if you're fortunate enough to have one. And not enough emphasis on the real meaning of the holiday, which is honoring those who lost their lives while serving in the military during time of war.

Thus, I will buy and wear a Buddy Poppy - if I come across a veteran selling them.

And on Tuesday, I will drive out to Worcester, pick up my cousin, buy a bunch of geraniums, and go do some planting at our family graves.

The graves that we'll be decorating aren't full of people who died while serving in the military during time of war. (The closest thing to that is the grave of a second cousin of mine who died of a heroin overdose shortly after he got back from Vietnam in the late 1960's.)

But many of the men in those graves are veterans, including my father, who served in the U.S. Navy for four years in World War II.

When I plant geraniums on his grave, I will think of him - and of all the men (and women) who didn't make it through their wars safely.

Donation to the vet selling Buddy Poppies: $5. Spending on geraniums at the florist: $20.  A non-commercial, non-marketing centered holiday that makes you pause and think about all those young lives: priceless.



I've posted more thoughts on Memorial Day over on Pink Slip.

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