Respect Memorial Day And Keep Your American Flag Hot Pants In Your Closet

It’s Memorial Day. And just like being Christian and liberal or a philosophy major and an MD, I’m anti-war and pro-military. What I mean is that while I don’t support most wars and have a very narrow view of the just war theory (which I learned about when I read this book), I am fiercely patriotic.

I boo-hiss people who do not take down their unlit American flags at night. (Here are the other rules. FYI: be prepared to keep your American flag napkins for the rest of your life.) And while I don’t believe everyone has to SAY the Pledge of Allegiance, I believe that you should stand up and be quiet during it. If only out of respect for the country you’re living in or visiting. Same goes for the Star-Spangled Banner.

In fact, when we went to South Carolina in April, a group of soldiers (I’m using that term ubiquitously. The only thing that I’m sure of is that they were not sailors. Because I’m pretty sure that sailors don’t have camouflage uniforms. If they do, they are probably more grays and blues. Or with little fish on them. To blend.) sat next to us at lunch. After a mumbled debate as to whether it was weird (verdict: no), my son and I went over to the table, apologized for interrupting their lunch, and sang the Star-Spangled Banner.

No. (But I’m kinda psyched that you believed me. Or afraid.) Seriously, there was no serenading. We just thanked them for their service.

I’m liberal and realistic. I know that there are moments when those men and women separate us and other good people around the world from some pretty awful events. And while I’m the sort of person who could probably find good in ANYONE, I understand that sometimes the military is the only means to saving people quickly.

Is the necessity as often as we actually send our troops into battle? No. Do I wish that we’d sent our armies to Darfur instead of Iraq? Yes. Do I blame those men and women in uniform? No. Well, not until we get to the big fish. Or cheese. Or kahuna.

We give to National Military Families Association every year. Or you can eat a burger and think about the troops. Or you can think about me. I’ll probably be doing that last one, too.

Happy Memorial Day, my friends.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

20 thoughts on “Respect Memorial Day And Keep Your American Flag Hot Pants In Your Closet

  1. Thank you for giving this perspective. I have become so far left in response to my sometimes fanatical right-wing (Baptist) relatives that I can lose this important aspect of things.

  2. Thank you for the reminder to hang our flag today. The former owners of our home left it here for us but to be honest, it’s a bit faded and I’ve been meaning to replace it. It will suffice for today, and then I think I need to figure out the proper way to burn a synthetic flag fused to the pole.

    Flag napkins/plates have always bugged me. I’m far from far-right flag worship, but wiping your greasy mouth on your country’s emblem never seemed right.
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..word of the day 149/365: mama =-.

  3. You crack me up! No, I will not be wearing my flag hot-pants or breaking out the embellished napkins.

    You are right though, that the men and women serving this country deserve thanks, whether you support this war or not.

  4. thanks, alex! i always tell matt thank you for his sacrifices and he says “it’s my job!” i know many men and women who feel so strongly that it’s their job to serve the US and protect it. while we may not all be excited about wars or even understand why we are involved, we must still SUPPORT these brave soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen/women and let them know just how much we appreciate them and what they do! they sacrifice a lot…just ask their families, particularly, their children. even when they come home from combat, their experience is not over…some relive events and suffer.
    and yes, a! i did believe that you and e serenaded those military folks…either way, saying thank you was awesome! so, thank you for posting this and for saying thanks!

  5. Two things.
    One. Veteran’s Day celebrates people who have served in the military. Memorial Day HONORS those who have died in service to our country. As always, I thank people for their well wishes, but like to point out….I’m not dead yet.

    Two. “Happy Memorial Day” is an odd thing to say. Would you say, “Happy Your Mom’s Funeral”? But for many people the weekend is a day off and time for a BBQ so I try and not flinch so bad.
    .-= Walt´s last blog ..The Horten 229 =-.

    1. Thank you for your comment. (But I’ll wait to thank you for your service until November — I’d like you to stay around ;))

      I actually did know the difference between the days but I guess my thinking was: Since Veteran’s Day is for veterans and there isn’t a Celebrate Those Who Currently Serve Day, I would use Memorial Day as an opportunity to discuss supporting the troops and patriotism.

      I had not, however, thought about how Happy Memorial Day may be inferred. I will ponder it. What do you say on this day? How do you observe the day?

    2. I have said similar things about saying Happy Memorial Day. It seems so weird.
      Today, as we sat by the lake in beautiful weather, I told the kids that THIS is why we have memorial day as a holiday. It’s to take time to appreciate the freedom we have to simply play at the lake on a beautiful day and to be grateful to all the people who made that possible. And the thing is, I don’t think I ever really thought of it that way before today.
      Once, my uncle looked at someone who thanked him on Memorial Day for his service and he said to me, “I guess I should stop drinking now just in case that was prophetic.”
      .-= GuiltySquid´s last blog ..My fingers turned blue, I stole my doctor’s cell phone number and I’m pretty sure WebMD is responsible for Natasha Richardson’s death. I could just be wrong on that last part. The heading was ambiguous, y’all. =-.

  6. Thanks Alex!
    There is nothing oxymoronic about hating war and loving those who serve.
    My father served, and I make a point of thanking him on veteran’s day. Which gets less attention.

  7. I’m in total agreement with you, Alex. I come from a very left wing family who was/is actually kinda anti-military if you want to know the truth. When I met my husband (who had just finished serving 8 years in the military) it was hard for me to warm up to the idea at first. But after I spent several months defending him from the (semi-psychotic) attacks from various family members and friends of my own who at first thought it was ignorant to serve in the armed forces, I realized that I believed what I was saying. I’m anti-war and pro-military. And I also wish that we’d sent our troops to Darfur rather than Iraq. But it’s definitely not the fault of the soldiers who’ve volunteered to serve. And I think it’s really admirable that anyone would lay down their life for the sake of someone else.

  8. I’m all about supporting our military and do so. I typically thank service members when I see them in uniform, for their service. I appreciate the sacrifices they make for our country.

    I’m not a fan of many of the tasks they are sent to do.

    True story about someone I know in real life: I once had a military wife send me a nasty email because I had the unmitigated gall to criticize someone who is a lying jerkface of a person and treated his children like crap and would lie in order to avoid child support. My comment was unacceptable because he’s a soldier. My response was that supporting the military does not mean that being in the military gets anyone a free pass to behave badly and that no one else is allowed to find their bad behavior unacceptable.
    The point: I support the military but not assholes.

    P.S. Am I allowed to say assholes on your blog?
    P.P.S. We donate to http://www.snowballexpress.org – which benefits the smallest of those who sacrifice on behalf of our nation.
    P.P.S. Sorry about the assholes thing, but that guy really is an asshole.
    .-= GuiltySquid´s last blog ..My fingers turned blue, I stole my doctor’s cell phone number and I’m pretty sure WebMD is responsible for Natasha Richardson’s death. I could just be wrong on that last part. The heading was ambiguous, y’all. =-.

    1. thanks for the info on snowball express…i didn’t know about it! it’s an awesome charity!

    2. YOU can say @##holes on my blog. But I CAN’T. I don’t curse here because I don’t curse (much) in real life anymore. And I’m KEEPIN’ IT REAL AT LATEENOUGH.COM

  9. I agree with the sentiments in this post. I also think that while being anti-war is the duty of a good progressive, it should also be the duty of a good progressive to make sure that our veterans are treated well. How sad is it that there even needs to be a National Military Families Association to make sure that military families get the benefits they deserve? And that veterans die homeless on the street, or don’t have access to decent healthcare? The rah-rah pro-war folks on the right conveniently disappear when it’s time to advocate for these things.

  10. With 3 family members having been in the air force,and one currently serving in afghanistan, I appreciate every word you say.

    I don’t say Happy Memorial Day, b/c it is a day to recognize and solemnly keep those in memory who have given their lives to keep us safe.

    I believe in gratitude of our soldiers enough to the point that I keep a notebook in my car, so that when my sons and I see a POW license plate, we leave a note on their windshield thanking them for their sacrifice and duty beyond call.

    Thank you for this post, Alex. It was nicely done.

  11. i think that we should recognize/think about those who have sacrificed (a small piece of themselves or the ultimate sacrifice) everyday. after all, it is because of their sacrifices that we can blog and talk about how anti-war but pro-military we are. traditionally, memorial day was for remembering the fallen but i personally take it as a day to remember those who’ve not only given the ultimate sacrifice but also those who have lost a limb, peace of mind, or even their families…we, as a nation, sometimes forget about those folks.
    i grew up with a marine vietnam vet and i’m married to a man who’s been in combat. even if the soldier, marine, airman/woman, sailor has not died, if they’ve been in combat, they may have lost huge chunks of themselves.
    So, dead or alive, i thank every military member (from the war of independence to the civil war to WW to vietnam, panama, desert shield, OIF, OEF) because without them i wouldnt be able to sit here with a last name of messerschmitt and write this blog talking about how much i think military folks rock! they give and take the orders in order to preserve what we value so dearly…freedom!
    and since i’ve been living in the middle east, let me just tell you…freedom rocks too!
    so, alex…thanks again! ^5…and as always, u rock!

  12. Let me say, it kills me when my students won’t stand up for the pledge. That’s all I ask..turds.

    But, I guess I’m breaking the rules because our flag is unlit at night…maybe we should fix that.

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