May 29, 2017 Katherine Haas

Cookouts to Commemoration: Considering Memorial Day the Way It Was Intended

When you hear the phrase “Memorial Day Weekend,” what comes to mind? Three days off of work or school, scoring big with retail sales, sunbathing on the beach, boating on the lake or barbecuing in the backyard?  Daydreaming about these and similar scenarios is what most of us did last week leading up to this weekend and today—the time at the end of May that has come to be called an unofficial kickoff to the summer season. While that’s all well and good, keep in mind that the impetus for these types of celebrations is distinct from the original inspiration for the Memorial Day holiday.

When you hear the phrase, “Memorial Day,” what comes to mind? Some of us might reference the same items on the list above. Others might say things like “freedom,” “sacrifice,” and “remembrance,” or a combination of both the former and the latter. It’s not wrong to enjoy your three-day weekend with sun, sand and relaxation, but it is unfortunate to forget to consider Memorial Day the way it was originally intended—as a day to genuinely reflect on people who have died so that others can live freely.

USMemorialDay.org states, “Memorial Day started off as a somber day of remembrance; a day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of our war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members and loved ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice.” The website adds that 1.8 million people have given their life for the United States since 1775—a number that is sure to have climbed consistently.

In the world of advertising, Memorial Day is regrettably more often than not treated less like a day of respect for the dead and more of an opportunity to market products and services around the simple fact that there is type on the calendar. In fact, in recent years the internet community has caught wind of marketing schemes that take advantage of Memorial Day and has shunned some big name businesses for disrespecting the holiday in their advertising materials. (Some of the examples on this link are arguably less offensive, but you get the idea.)

When you are presenting your business or showcasing your product or services in the public eye, respect for the holiday is surely something to keep in mind. As an individual, we’re not necessarily saying that you should spend your entire Memorial Day in mourning. You can show your respect in various ways and to varying degrees—from attending a Memorial Day ceremony in your town, to simply taking a moment to pause and reflect. The power of common thought plays a significant role in preserving the memory of those we have lost.

Enjoy your time off from work or school, but make it a point to remember what today signifies. And in remembering what it signifies, remember those who gave their lives so we could live.

Wishing everyone a safe Memorial Day from the McNutt and Partners team. You can reach us at 334-521-1010, or fill out the form on our contact page.

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