This Memorial Day is unlike any we have experienced in our lifetime.
For one group of Americans, this Memorial Day means temporarily giving up cherished holiday rituals. For them there will be no beaches, back yard barbecues, or blockbuster movies. For another group of Americans who will insist on going on with life as usual, groups will gather, crowds will congregate. Carefree and unprotected they will proudly wear no protective mask to hide their sneers or outrage at the infringement of their freedom.
But for close to 100,000 Americans there will never ever be another Memorial Day spent at the beach soaking up the sun, nor a happy gathering of family and friends drinking beer at a backyard barbecue. They would gladly wear a mask if they could.
This Sunday The N.Y. Times dramatically printed the names and excerpts of obituaries of 1,000 of the nearly 100,000 Americans we have lost to COVID 19. These names in black and white are someone’s beloved mother, their fathers, favorite aunts, and younger brother; childhood friends, and workplace colleagues.
People who lived among us. People just like us.
We find ourselves today as divisive as Americans were during the Civil War. There are indeed two Americas.
Even on Memorial Day we can’t come together. Ironically, Memorial Day ( originally called Decoration Day ) arose right after the Civil War. Three years after the war ended Decoration Day was established in May as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.
On the precipice of 100,000 lost Americans, we take this day to remember them too.
We are at War
Back in March Trump refashioned himself as a “wartime president” facing a foreign enemy. But his sluggish response to the virus left us unprepared for the war. Had social distancing begun even a week earlier than it did 36,000 lives could have been saved.
These nearly100,000 lost Americans died not in a conventional war, though it is a battle with a virulent enemy.
Open your hearts, wives, and daughters!
Open your pocketbook’s fathers! Give your blood brothers and sisters!
So the freedom you want…
So the country you want…
So the future you want
Will be there when we come back.
Like most wars there are those on the front line risking their own lives bravely to save others sometimes at the very cost of their own. Along with the doctors and nurses, there are the grunts- the grocery clerks and the delivery boy, the mailman and the meat packer who risk their lives so we may have some comfort.
Then there are the soldiers on the homefront, the little guy, who do their part for the war effort valiantly, silently and with great sacrifice for the greater good.
They shelter in place fighting isolation and loneliness and at times despair. They wear masks whenever in public, and wash their hands. Religiously. Not because they are paranoid. But to keep you safe. To give others the freedom to stay alive. The soldiers on the homefront are each doing battle to keep others free from this virus. So they comply.
Then there are the deniers, the self-proclaimed “Freedom Fighter.” The so-called conscientious objectors of this war who still believe the war was cooked up, the panic created by the democrats to make Trump look bad. This “social distancing stuff” is a tool to oppress God-fearing freedom-loving Americans.
Face coverings are an infringement on folks’ constitutional rights. Take off your masks they cry, exercise your Constitutional Rights.
Even with 100,000 dead.
Besides which dontcha know the enemy is gone, retreated. Somehow the war is won. These are the Americans going to crowded beaches, pool parties and bars on Memorial Day ignoring social distancing rules in the name of liberty and freedom.
The very things people in wars fought for and died. So that Americans could be safe.
“I’m fighting for freedom! I’m fighting for the things that made America the greatest place in the world to live in. . . I want to come back to the same America I left behind me . . . That’s what I’m fighting for.”
We mourn for our fellow citizens. We mourn for 100,000 Americans, sadly knowing there will be more.
We mourn for the America that once was.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with ap