267. "Why bother calling it Memorial Day?" Philadelphia Inquirer, (May 28, 1995). Also published: "Let's Cancel Memorial Day" Chicago Tribune, (May 28, 1995) p. 13.


We need a national contest to rename Memorial day. “Memorial-Ale” Day or “Memorable Keg” Day may not quite do, but they’re promising candidates. “First Day on the Beach” is too long. The new name will have to remind my fancy relations that it’s time to lower their boats into the water, never mid the flags.

My friends need no reminding; they will lay frankfurters on the barbecue from end to end, in the cheer of a bright late spring day. Leave the wreath-laying and the 21-gun salutes to nostalgic types who follow such traditions, and let the rest of us pay homage to the pool.

After all, this is the day to remember what the fighting was all about: the American way of life, the good life, affluence and happiness for all. We protected our right to stretch out in the sun, try out new composite tennis rackets, watch race cars spinning around at the Indianapolis oval, as if there’s no tomorrow.

Spending a day hanging around graveyards is ever so past-oriented, and downright macabre when you think about it. It brings to mind all sorts of depressing thoughts of friends and loved ones who have passed one; worst of all, of our own mortality.

Maybe it even makes us ponder what we are doing with out lives in the first place. Who needs such morose stuff? Studies show that being sad is bad for one’s immune system. Being up at all times is the best way to stay healthy. If you need a little extra beer or inhale a bit of other stuff to get there, well that’s what three-day weekends are for.

Above all, we should look forward, ride a new Toffler wave if we can’t get to the beach for the real thing. (If we are tied down at home, we can always surf on the information superhighway.)

Town halls should make it official: Let’s merge Memorial Day with Veterans Day so we don’t have to go through all this twice a year. After all, as it is, only nine out of 66 activities are listed in the New York Times last Memorial Day had any memorial function, and that was a pretty good ration compared to many other cities, where brief memorial services are squeezed in between corporate picnics and softball tournaments.

I do not urge that should immediately recycle all those books that stir us up about the bravery of Bunker Hill and Gettysburg; the patriotic valor of the men who fell in the bitter cold of the Battle of the Bulge and the tropical swelter of Khe Shan. They may do a world of good for children, new immigrants, and those of us with long-term memory loss.

Indeed, many youngsters and quite a few others seem to yearn for some sense of belonging, some community to join, Maybe, for their sakes, we should talk about the thousands of places across America where people still gather to cheer old men in their all too tight uniforms, marching down Main Street under flags that have been proudly carried in battle. And let them hail the Brownies with their streamer-bedecked bicycles, and the fife-and drum teams. Maybe even shed a tear or two. After all there is this age-old adage: Those who do not remember the past are bound to repeat it.

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