On Memorial Day, Don't Let Living Veterans Steal Glory From the Dead

Memorial Day means many things to many people. It is almost summer, it is a time to drink, there are sales in the hellish big box stores, etc. But mostly, it is a time to solemnly remember military personnel who died while on active duty. Sorry, veterans!

Stop interviewing old veterans, lamestream media. It's not their day.

Here, we have a very nice story about America's oldest living veteran, who plans to "spend a quiet Memorial Day at home." That is good, because that's what all living veterans should do on Memorial Day. Unless you are currently in the ground, it's not for you. Celebrate, sure! Buy something, by all means! But please don't divert attention from the honored dead.

And if you survive to see another Veterans Day—wouldn't that be great, for you and your loved ones?—we'll be there on November 11, Veterans Day 2013, with flags waving! Hang in there. Even Santa Claus needs to keep a low profile in the summer.

Gawker's military affairs desk is angry because year after year, the lamestream media puts out a bunch of pictures of 100-year-old veterans having a BBQ or wearing their old war hats. This is not the reason for Memorial Day. Memorial Day is to remember the dead, and to open the swimming pools for the summer, and to get a new mattress if necessary.

How did Memorial Day start, you may wonder. I will tell you. Long ago, in the hollers and mountains and swamps of the Deep South, the same morbid southerners who gave us country music and blues music and William Faulkner gave us a tradition known as "Decoration Day."

The Civil War was horrific. No amount of Ken Burns atmospheric banjo plucking can begin to illustrate the gruesome four-year-long living nightmare of the War Between the States. No visit to a manicured cannonball lawn can return us to that time, and that's for the best. The whole country, from New England to California, was technically at war. But the battles were concentrated in the South, a place so hot and humid and malarial and miserable for much of the year that people didn't start living there in large numbers until the wide availability of air conditioning in the 1950s. (The first air conditioner was invented in Brooklyn in 1902, to keep factory workers from collapsing in the summer months. But it was another half century before the AC-equipped home made life in the South bearable for anybody who wasn't born there and didn't know better.)

Between 620,000 and 850,000 American and Confederate soldiers died, two-thirds of them from disease. The Southern economy, built on the backs of slaves, was obliterated. Tradition and gloomy tales told on broiling summer nights were about all the defeated Confederacy had left. Southerners are unparalleled practitioners of grief. Jazz funerals, three-day "wakes," a special menu of regional foods prepared especially for the wailing relations, burial with feet facing east for easy plucking on Judgment Day ... in a southern town, it can sometimes feel like nobody's really alive until somebody drops dead.

They invented Decoration Day, when the survivors and later the descendants of the war dead went to the family plot, adorned the gravestone with flowers, and had a "dinner on the ground" over the rotting remains of the Civil War soldiers.

Just as the nation eventually embraced such southern traditions as The Dukes of Hazzard and eating too much fried foods, the victorious United States also claimed Decoration Day as its own. It was not until after World War II that the Memorial Day celebrations became common and widespread, and not until 1967 that Memorial Day became a federal holiday—a year later, Memorial Day was legally set as a three-day weekend at the end of May, making it a convenient time for backyard parties and the purchase of furnishings and automobiles. Only then did it become truly American.

Still, it's Memorial Day, not Alive Veterans Day.

Unless the veterans profiled around this weekend's special advertising sections by America's Media are zombies, this practice is unpatriotic and morally wrong. It is Memorial Day.

Celebrate this day with the proper solemnity. It is "okay" to exclude living veterans from your parties and trips to Mattress Land.

[Photo from GettyPremium]