This is really my wife’s pet peeve, but I’ve been won over. I speak for us both: can we stop saying Happy Memorial Day?
It’s pretty much like telling a bereaved person to enjoy the death in his family. (Happy funeral to you!)
Yes the president said it, but he’s ignorant and allowances must be made. The rest of us, though—from newscasters to store clerks—shouldn't we give some thought to the words that tumble out thoughtlessly? In the modern era—with no world war to cause an impact—some 7,000 Americans have died in war. Seven thousand. Do you know one-hundred people? They'd all be dead, along with all the friends, family, and acquaintances of seventy more just like you. It may not rise to the level of a quarter million from World War II, but it's a lot of people who expected to be alive today, but who aren't.
As for the president, and being the equal opportunity ignoramus that he is, he wished a happy Memorial Day to the Japanese troops also. I doubt if they’re grateful, since Memorial Day honors those who have lost their lives in the service of their country. Gratitude is not something the deceased experience, or so we can presume.
And on we go, plowing through uncharted waters with an idiot at the helm. Is it any wonder he wants to put troops in harm’s way? He with no understanding of it all? Now we all know that his deadly bone spurs kept him out of the military, but could he maybe watch Gallipoli? Saving Private Ryan? Dunkirk? Would one of those films provide a somewhat deeper understanding of loyalty and sacrifice? He wears a flag on his lapel—does he have any concept of how many men and women died so that he can wear that (or someone can pin it on for him)?
I thought of the e e cummings poem I used to teach:
next to of course god america i love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh say can you see by the dawn's early my country 'tis of centuries come and go and are no more what of it we should worry in every language even deafanddumb thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry by jingo by gee by gosh by gum why talk of beauty what could be more beaut- iful than these heroic happy dead who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter they did not stop to think they died instead then shall the voice of liberty be mute? He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water
The poet's irony and contempt would be lost on Trump, so, yes, a belated Happy Memorial Day, Mr. President. And a Merry Good Friday if I don’t see you. And while you’re roistering about on Yom Kippur, don’t forget to hire a band for the Veteran’s Day blowout. And it’s your loss that you don’t consider Islam a religion, or you could carouse about for a whole month during Ramadan. How fun!
Or, maybe (and I know this is extreme) you could learn something about the history of the country that elected you president, so that the next time you’re on the other side of the world—or on the other side of the room—you don’t embarrass this nation that, unlike you, is grateful for where it is and how it got here.