Regardless of the origins, I’ve always liked holidays. Mostly because every holiday meant a day off of school and work, sometimes sales on stuff I may want, food and parties. I never really cared about the origins of most holidays honestly, just the day off or sale associated. When I joined the Air Force, Memorial Day was more of a downer than it was before I went in. Suddenly we were honoring dead soldiers, all of the years before that, people around me treated Memorial Day just like July 4th, minus the fireworks. I knew of the origins of Memorial Day from covering the Civil War extensively in 7th grade, but I never really grasped how crazy it was. Between 620K and 750K people died as a result of the Civil war, depending on who you ask. That’s a lot of people from both sides.
In death as in life
My dad was talking about a guy that was by many accounts a complete asshole. This guy died, my dad’s description of him didn’t change…I’m the same way. I’m biased on my feelings about it, but given the results and reason for the war, I don’t really care about those lost on the side of the Confederacy. Their insistence that my ancestors were not worthy of equal treatment, civility, or a right to live freely, influences my thoughts when I say F**k all of them. Not surprising, there are still some Confederates around today, they just go by Republican now. I don’t see the Civil War as a true civil war. The Confederate States of America were a nation to them, separate from the United States of America. They had a President, currency, and their mission was independence from the US. In that sense, it’s similar to having a girlfriend that cheats all the time. She’s doing what she wants, and in her eyes you all might as well be broken up. That said, they were a foreign nation to me and I’m not the kind of person to honor my enemy, regardless of previous relationship status.
My feelings aside, the origins of Memorial Day included honoring Confederate soldiers. Because the U.S. didn’t honor the breakup, they were still considered “Americans”, just ones that lost their way. As of 2022, they have not found their way to uniting with the other states yet. In addition to this “in theory National” holiday, there are also individual Confederate Memorial Day holidays in 9 of the former Confederate states. Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Virginia all have a special day for these folks, independent of the “National” Memorial day. America is the only place I can think of that goes out of its way to honor the worst part of itself. There is no holiday in Germany honoring Nazi’s, nor is there one in Japan honoring Kamikaze pilots.
Call me cynical, but White supremacy is deeply embedded in the fabric of the United States and Memorial Day is further proof in my opinion. One of the reasons we still see instances of overt racism against non-White people is because we allowed, on a national level, an honoring of our assholes, and the policies and practices they stood for. There is no condemnation on a national level of these practices, hell, these Southern states are celebrating them still. Texas calls it Confederate Heroes Day now, and it comes right after MLK Day. Just so we’re on the same page, hero is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Call me crazy, but this does not apply to a Confederate Soldier, General, President or run of the mill citizen. What they stood for was hatred! Being good at hating people is not something to admire, it is something to condemn, and all aspects of that mentality should be destroyed, much like Germany and Japan have done with their less than flattering legacies.
Why Celebrate Villains?
There is no modern day equivalent to what the Confederate did, or stood for. Not only were they traitors to the United States, they were also fighting to preserve raping, human trafficking exploitation, torture and so on. In still pictures they look like every other White guy from the Civil War era, but in action these guys were horrible people. Robert E. Lee pictured lower center was the General of the Confederate army. Upon surrendering he stated that no monuments or statues should be placed in their honor, in an effort to unify the nation. Unfortunately, the people that looked up to him were too dumb to grasp why he said this, and they began putting up monuments all over the place, naming United States military bases after traitors and so on. Imagine an OJ Simpson school for girls, in an all White neighborhood…naming bases after these clowns is far worse.
Don’t get me wrong, I have criminals in my family, and I love them just as much as the non-criminals…but I’m not praising them for their criminal behavior. If I had a relative that made a claim to fame on raping and torturing people, I’m not wearing shirts with his name on it in honor of his achievements. Yet, that’s what we’re seeing on a national level AND local in some states. Though this bothers me in a very minute way, as in I don’t really give it much thought, it is annoying to know this is what we let slide in the good ol’ Divided States of America.
Bleak Bright Spot
On a lighter note, Memorial Day has great sales. I’m not sure why that is the case, but furniture and cars seem to be Memorial Day items if you’re in the market. It shouldn’t be this way, but I guess the Universe is doing its part in correcting the nonsense by taking the meaning out of it and commercializing a so-called holiday for material gain. And that my friends, is truly the American way. Monetize pain and suffering to the point the inflictors and sufferers are numb to the actual impact of it.