The Wall of Names

Monday I posted “Of Memorials and Remembrances.” It was intended to be a reminder that Memorial Day is not simply another holiday.  While I normally write something for Memorial Day, this piece was triggered by someone’s attempt at being current and sociable. It was the manager at the fitness center, and as I was leaving her parting remarks were “Happy Memorial Day.” I know she meant well, but it was a bit off the mark.

To be fair, the individual in question knows very little about me. She sees me on the treadmill, using some machines, and yakking it up with the early morning workout group. Additionally, she likely has no clue about the meaning of this particular day.

To me, her comment was the equivalent of telling someone, “Happy Wake.” A wake, visitation, or memorial service is held to acknowledge a lost life. They may be pleasant, and they may include the telling of amusing anecdotes about the deceased. Laughs may occur.  However, Memorial Day is an annual wake for the tens of thousands who died defending the United States.  It is not, in an overall sense, a “happy” occasion.

Certainly, we, as a society, have turned Memorial Day into a party. That is not because it should be a party. Instead, it is because our leaders decided a three-day weekend was more important than a stand-alone day of remembrance. Yes, there are those who place flags, flowers and wreaths on graves.  Yes, there are speeches, and organized activities to salve some of the pain felt by those whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, for most people it seems the day is set aside to guzzle beer, grill burgers, and act foolishly at the pool or beach.

For me, and tens of thousands of others it is a day to remember our brothers, sisters, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparent, and others who died in places most people never heard of much less visited. For my generation especially, it is the day to remember the roughly 50,000* names on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. Those 50,000 names are there to memorialize the life of someone’s family member who gave his or her last breath to make it possible for people to celebrate holidays, memorial days, and a beautiful sunrise. 

For a taste of what so many feel on Memorial Days and other days of honoring and remembering fallen heroes, click on the link below. Listen and watch an homage to those whose only reward for dying was being remembered and having their name on that wall. 

50,000 Names

* The official count today is 58,320. Also, the video is great, but first 1:20 is without music. FF to 1:25 and to hear the song.

© – 2020

About S. Eric Jackson

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1 Response to The Wall of Names

  1. oldcowdog says:

    Agree on all counts. Thankskd

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