In recent years, a series of cringe worthy posts inevitably find their way on to social media that lambaste veterans and chastise civilians about what the appropriate way is to observe Memorial Day. Rather than enjoy a long weekend and some time with our families, we are now expected to be sad and solemn as we remember our fallen soldiers. For some, Memorial Day is not a day for barbecues with family but rather, it seems, a day to get drunk in a bar by yourself while fixating on your lost friends.
Memorial Day is indeed a time when we can all reflect on the sacrifices made, the terrible costs that have been paid as American men and women fought the evils of fascism, communism and terrorism across the globe. The world would be a much nastier, less friendly place without American influence and without a superpower advocating for democracy and human rights, but we didn’t get there with sunshine and rainbows. Wars were fought and won in the mud, and at times, it got pretty ugly.
However, there is a serious question on how we process this as a country. Civilians are vaguely aware of the fact that we have soldiers deployed to dozens of countries, many in active war zones. They are also vaguely respectful and thankful for the service of these soldiers. They also have families, jobs and kids little league games. We can’t expect them to be mournful day in and day out and as veterans, we should be thankful for that fact. We helped protect our society from some of the things we saw.
For veterans, Memorial Day has almost transmogrified into a moment for us to rub our service in the faces of everyone around us, reminding the world, that yes, we are veterans. Some rightly argue that Memorial Day is about the fallen, not a day to celebrate the vets who are still with us but proving that virtue signaling and self-aggrandizement knows no bounds, many veterans take Memorial Day as an opportunity to guilt civilians into feeling bad about the war. This is vain and selfish, because guilt is not a productive emotion and is not going to change anything.