I also hope you took the time to reflect on the meaning of the day.
As a musician, I have spent quite a few Memorial Days in cemeteries honoring those who gave all to defend our great nation.
In the wake of 9/11 and the resulting wars that followed, many confused the meaning of Memorial Day, thanking members of the armed forces for their service. Of course, it is never wrong to do that, but the purpose of Memorial Day is to honor those who died in service to their country.
Thus, while folks enjoy the long weekend, have friends over to cook out, or go on vacation to celebrate the unofficial start to summer, the roots of the day are a somber occasion.
This year, Memorial Day came against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic. Not only were many plans scuttled due to the lockdowns we are under, or are just emerging from, the last few days also saw the death toll in this country rise near 100,000.
A somber time indeed, and while Memorial Day has a strict definition as to who we honor, the timing is apt.
Sadly, we’ve reached the inevitable point where the patience of the people has been pushed to its limit and politics have begun to numb society’s nerves toward this milestone.
No matter where you might fall on the political spectrum, or the stay-at-home/reopen-the-economy debate, let’s take just a moment to reflect on 100,000 people.
Numbers can be hard to visualize, so let’s just say we are talking about the stadium capacity of the average big-time college football stadium. In fact, the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium at the University of Texas, pictured, is almost a dead ringer.
Take a look at that photo. That’s a lot of people. All gone.
The New York Times took up the whole of the front page and three additional pages Sunday to list 1,000 victims’ names, hometowns, ages, and a brief phrase to describe each life. Those 1,000 souls are just 1 percent of the total count.
Personally, I’ve been lucky. No one in my immediate circle has been infected or died, but head out a degree or two of separation, and it is a far different story. This thing is real, and if it hasn’t touched someone you know, count yourself blessed.
Believe me, I know what we are going through at the moment isn’t easy. Personally, it has ash-canned the kid’s senior year of high school and may yet scupper her freshman year of college. I’ve lost almost half of my contracts — half my income — and it is throwing monkey wrench after monkey wrench in my Dad’s plans to move.
We have dealt a self-inflicted wound on our economy from which it may take years to recover. It’s questionable whether that was the right strategy, only time will tell. And, when all is said and done, do the experts really know more now than they did two months ago?
There is a lot to be frustrated about, I know, but it doesn’t take much effort to be polite to each other. To respect each other. And, to take a moment to reflect on the victims of COVID-19. Don’t write them off as expendable. No matter your opinions or politics, those are lives, loves and lifetimes. All lost.
Acknowledging those lives, their loss, with humanity and compassion is the least we can do.