This coming Monday, May 25, is Memorial Day. For about 150 years we, as a nation, have been honoring the memory of our fallen warriors, be they Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard. You will be able to go anywhere in America and find at least one Memorial Day observance, often preceding a parade.
In San Diego, which is itself a Navy and Marine town; there are half a dozen different Memorial Day ceremonies, and a few parades. Everyone that cares to can honor the memory of those who have fought for our nation.
For over a decade now I’ve been attending the Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, a location that is idyllic in its serenity and beauty. It sits atop a high point on Point Loma, that outcropping of land that marks the northern side of San Diego Bay and features on its Pacific Ocean side, the community of Ocean Beach. Known for its Bohemian atmosphere and great surfing, O.B. is not what you would call a military town.
But above the community, high in the hills rests Fort Rosecrans. My brother’s ashes are interred at Rosecrans and that is a big reason I attend the ceremony every year: it gives me an opportunity to visit his niche and remember the good times.
It doesn’t offend me that many people look at Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial beginning of Summer, or that having a Monday off is a good reason to fire up the barbeque; it’s a day off from work, enjoy it.
Not everyone goes to the Memorial Day services around the county, or around the country. I get it, but nonetheless the ceremony at Fort Rosecrans is pretty crowded. A lot of people do observe the day as it was intended, either by going to one of the ceremonies or by watching one of the parades. Kids love watching parades, where they can get goodies and if they get a little bit of meaning from the parade, all the better.
Here is what’s offensive about how we “observe” Memorial Day: the blatant use of the day for advertising things. A local furniture store, Jerome’s, had their Memorial Day commercial on and they took time in that commercial to remind viewers why we had a Memorial Day. Jerome’s is a San Diego-based company so they know about the military and veterans.
Seeing them do that got me to thinking about the other Memorial Day sales commercials that are currently running on television. If you watch TV you know there are a few of them. Every automobile dealer has them; all the other furniture stores, clothing, you name it, they all have Memorial Day commercials. They have commercials for all holidays as a matter of fact, including the 4th of July.
Generally I try not to be offended by this commercialization of Memorial Day. I served in the military because we have the freedom to observe all our various holidays in whichever fashion fits our desires. If you want to skip the Memorial Day observances and take your Weber down to Mission Bay and throw some ribeyes on the grill and celebrate with the family, that’s fine. Actually, ribeyes sound good right about now.
Maybe you’ll throw some chicken or burgers and hot dogs on the grill, doesn’t matter. Go do your thing. This is America and we have the freedom to do whatever we want for Memorial Day — or the 4th of July or whatever holiday it is you are celebrating — or not observing.
The one that chapped my hide though was a Honda commercial; you know you’ve seen it. It’s for their Memorial Day sale and wouldn’t you know it, for them the day is all about selling cars and making a “Mount Savemore,” in the fashion of Mount Rushmore, but with various models of their product line.
According to their ad, Honda’s prices makes their sale worthy of a monument of its own, just like our four presidents on Mount Rushmore, like the heroes commemorated on other monuments, because, “America has always celebrated its finest citizens and moments through the building of monuments. With the incredible deals possible at the Honda Memorial Day Sales Event, Honda thought it was worthy of a monument of its own.”
I understand advertising, you want to tie in with a holiday, it’s about money and we are all about the almighty dollar, but a sale is not nearly the equivalent to the monuments to our forefathers or the heroes and finest citizens from our past.
Please, in your advertising, don’t equate your product with the people we commemorate with our monuments. Many of them died so we could have the freedom to fill the airwaves, newspapers, magazines and the Internet with commercials and advertisements.
Their sacrifice gives us the freedom to choose which cars we buy, which products we get to use, who we get to vote for and the freedom not to vote — or observe holidays.
Have a Memorial Day sale for your products, use the holiday for generating income. This is America, celebrate the holiday, but please have a little more tact than that.
Honda makes fine vehicles; some of my friends own Hondas and I had one briefly. It was a great car and I might buy another one some day. But these past few weeks Honda of America was just a bit too crass.
I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend. The beaches here in Southern California will be filled and that’s always a great time. A bit crowded, with little parking available after 8 a.m. Lots of Hondas down at the beach too.
Parks all over America will be filled with people enjoying the first weekend of summer, although technically, summer is still about a month away — June 21 — but for most people the Memorial Day Weekend is the start of the season.
Now, who’s got the ribeyes?
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.