Happy Memorial Day?

Pop quiz!

Quick!

What is Memorial Day?

Time’s up!

If you said it is for honoring our servicemen and women, you are wrong. That’s Veteran’s Day.

Memorial Day is a day of commemoration of those who lost their lives in the line of duty. So, it always rankles my nerves when people wish each other a “Happy Memorial Day.”

In Judaism, the holiest day of the year is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. A somber day of fasting. You don’t say “Happy Yom Kippur,” as even though it is a Holy Day, it is not a happy day.

Every year on Memorial Day, I marvel at how devoid of meaning this day has become for most Americans. How it is a day off of work (yay!), a day off of school (yay!), a long weekend (yay!), a chance to barbecue and party (yay!), and to shop until you drop (yay!). Anything but a day of commemoration for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

I imagine that one day, there will be a national holiday on 9/11, the horrific day that America was no longer invincible. A day when 2977 people lost their lives to terror. And, I am willing to bet anything, that it won’t be long before Americans wish each other “Happy 9/11.”

I know that as yoga practitioners, peace is the ultimate virtue. I don’t think any of us condone war or violence of any sort.

Nonetheless, it is the saddest of ironies that we live in a world where peace can only exist if we continue to engage in war.

For those who are pacifists and don’t honor soldiers because of their conscientious objection to war, I encourage you to read (or reread) the Bhagavad Gita. In it, Arjuna is told by Krishna that he must fight for the sake of righteousness.

When a soldier goes to war, it is with the intention of battling evil, and knowing full-well that s/he may not come out of the experience alive. Those soldiers fight, so the rest of us can what? Barbecue on Memorial Day?

Maybe.

That is one of the vast benefits of freedom.

So, if today seems an opportunity for a party, at least remember to raise a glass to those who gave their lives for that beer in your hand.

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