|An Open Letter to Memorial Day Salespeople
By: Shawn Paul Wood
Dear Champions of Commerce Everywhere,
This past weekend was Memorial Day, and regretfully, it seems there needs to be a good amount of public relations and reputation management for this day. Why? Well, you all have made this a complete mockery of what this day was created to be — a day of solemn remembrance. I know, I know. The economy sucks and you need every excuse to make bottom-line sales on your cars, clothes, groceries, and mattresses. However, since no one is willing to help educate you, allow me.
Stop it! Stop your shenanigans now. Shouting at the top of your lungs for two weeks prior to Memorial Day is not how you properly commemorate what this day was when originated in 1966 by President LBJ. Even though this day was incepted as "Decoration Day," I can understand the confusion. You hear "decorations" and assume "party," which is why your cockamamie commercials are full of party streamers, patriotic bunting, and all those sales. I get it, but please stop it. This is supposed to be a day where we remember our fallen heroes who have died in combat defending this country. This really isn't even the right time to "thank a vet." That comes in November (or actually, every day of the year, but that's another lesson).
It was May 30, 1868, when Gen. John Logan proclaimed General Order No. 11, and said:
Honestly, there's nothing even remotely "happy" about that. He didn't request parties, coldies, and barbecues. He didn't suggest that his back hurt so he needed to recycle his mattress every eight years. This day was "designated for the purpose" of remembering those who have died so the rest of us could live. Yes, this is the unofficial beginning of summer and it shouldn't be on a sad note, but do you know a veteran — one who has lost friends in combat? Odds are, those guys and gals are not downing the suds or shopping for a car. This is a day of reflection, a day of honor, a day of respect.
"The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
Candidly, what you all do on this day is about as disrespectful as possible. Do us a favor. For those of us who are children of veterans, spouses of veterans, or just admirers of veterans — stop it!
While you are enjoying the sound of the cash registers ringing and the charge machines running, listen to that other noise outside. The sound causing that U.S. flag to ripple on the pole overhead your establishment. The flag does not fly because of the wind that moves it. Rather, Old Glory flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it. Now, isn't that worth "decorating"? Isn't that worth "memorializing"?
And may God bless it all.
Shawn Paul Wood
is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here
or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood