In America today we would normally have a holiday called Memorial Day. Instead we have an abnormal holiday called Memorial Day.
The holiday is intended to honor the memories of U.S. soldiers who died in action. But this year it seems meant for honoring anyone who is defiant, suggesting all the American soldiers who died in action weren’t fighting only against an enemy, but against themselves.
In my life time Memorial Day became known as the start of summer, the end of our hibernation through our cold and long winters.
As a young boy it was a big red-white-and-blue festival, long before I even knew that meant ‘America.’ School got out early Friday so we could decorate our little red wagons and bikes for the big Monday parade.
As I grew older the family spent Memorial Day in our homes in northern Wisconsin. That wasn’t quite as much fun because houses that had slept deeper than the bears in winter had to be reopened and cleaned, landscaping tidied up from its fallen trees and mud holes, and equipment like lawn mowers and boats oiled up and retooled for the season.
So the real reason for Memorial Day shifted in my life time, and I think in part because so many of us were sick of America’s endless wars.
And so it’s shifted again this year.
“Memorial Day Crowds Flout Social Distancing” is a headline repeated dozens of times across America this morning.
Four sheriffs in counties near where I live openly defied our governor’s executive orders mandating social distancing to stem the spread of the worst virus to challenge humankind in centuries.
“I will not victimize lawful residents of DuPage County trying to put food on their children’s table. I’m so proud of our DuPage citizens who have done everything right from the beginning. All I can say is thank you,” the sheriff replied in response to a reporter’s question whether he would enforce the governor’s orders.
You must remember that American sheriffs aren’t professionally trained, appointed law enforcement officials. They’re elected politicians.
After receiving a “cease-and-desist” order from police in a town near me a few days ago, the biker bar owner sued the governor and then nationally publicized that he would defy the ban.
Today at Poopy’s Bar in Savanna Illinois it’s shoulder-to-shoulder, worse than the New York subway at rush hour in good times.
That’s America, at least part of America. That’s Memorial Day, celebrating what so many died for.