It was good to see the “Merry Christmas” wish doing so well again this year, although “Happy Easter” was almost non-existent most of the places I went. Yesterday, while running a bunch of errands, no fewer than five times, I heard a young person wish someone a “Happy Memorial Day!”

It reminded me of the ‘He doesn’t quite know what he’s doing, so he must be creative’ look I developed several years ago when I started my commercial sound design studio: Boots and jeans, a sport coat and tie, topped off with a beard and amber sunglasses. It worked. At one client meeting I heard someone sitting at table actually say, “Ask Fred. Look at him … he must be creative!” As for Memorial Day, to their credit, the kids knew they should be doing something but they didn’t quite know what.

It’s not that they didn’t get it, they just didn’t know. They, apparently, had never been taught that particular piece of American History. They never learned that it’s not just an excuse to party or another Hallmark holiday … nor is it National BBQ Day or even the unofficial beginning of summer. Memorial Day is a solemn day. It’s about honoring the dead, particularly those who paid the ultimate price for our right to barbecue that burger or munch that hot dog, and to enjoy an extended weekend with family and friends.

When I was growing up, I made it a policy never to let school interfere with my education. Like my ‘creative look’ it worked, too. Maybe today, when so much of our history and heritage is either being rewritten or ignored altogether, that may be a pretty good policy for kids to adopt. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been … and if you’re given bad information, or no information at all, you’re liable to wind up in the wrong place!

I don’t know what the proper wish for Memorial Day should be but I suspect the word “Happy” doesn’t precede it. Maybe it’s simply, “Thank you for your service,” to someone in uniform or “I’m sorry for your loss,” to a military family that has sacrificed a husband or son. It’s a wonderful day to visit the grave of a loved one or just to pause for a moment to remember those who have laid their lives upon the altar of freedom, as you crank up the grill or pack the picnic.

For my part Memorial Day happens every morning as I raise our flag, offer a casual salute to all the valiant Americans that have made my good life possible and quietly say, “Thank you fellows!”

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