Memorial Day is when we honor those who died while serving in this nation’s military.
Or it’s the unofficial first day of summer.
Both Memorial Day perspectives have their traditions.
This year, we’re trying to deal with a pandemic while observing those traditions. Which likely enough explains articles like these:
- “How to observe Memorial Day in the age of coronavirus”
TEGNA, WHAS 11 (May 22, 2020)
- “Your guide to Memorial Day weekend during the pandemic”
Kevin Slane, Boston.com (May 22, 2020)
One of them talks about virtual events. The other says it’s “all the questions you have about celebrating Memorial Day weekend during the coronavirus, answered.”
I won’t, make that can’t, answer all your questions. But I can show you what I’ll be talking about:
- Holidays and Silliness
- Dealing With a Pandemic
- Principles and Purpose
There’s Anzac Day, Armistice Day, Confederate Memorial Day, Dodenherdenking and Volkstrauertag.
These days of remembrance tend to cluster around the spring and autumn equinoxes. Like my country’s two equivalents of Remembrance Day: Memorial Day and Veterans Day.1
Oddly enough, I haven’t run across a Memorial Day conspiracy theory. Not that I’ve spent much time looking.
Who knows? Maybe someone’s actually claimed that Memorial Day is a reminder of imperialist oppression. Or a plutocratic plot to pilfer our pocketbooks by peddling puerile products. Or something completely different.
Like part of what I’ll call my Unified Conspiracy Theory. UCT.
You know, like Universal Coordinated Time.
Egad! They are using the acronym for their plot to control our clocks as the name for their nefarious organization!! IT ALL FITS!!!
Anyway, UCT would say that Memorial Day is part of a psychic attack on humanity, waged by Illuminati New World Order Space Aliens.
Operating out of their secret underground base that’s beneath Denver International Airport.2
I do not believe that. I really, sincerely do not believe that.
And maybe I need to get more sleep.
We’re still supposed to act as if spreading an occasionally-lethal disease is a bad idea. Makes sense to me. I’ll get back to that.
Minnesota’s governor has been changing and clarifying the new rules rather often.
Since he’s a member of a political party, I could denounce his oppressive actions. Or sing praises for his enlightened leadership.
Instead, I’ll say that I don’t envy anyone with a job like his. And move on.
The most recent Minnesota executive orders I know of — 20-56 through 20-61 — relate mostly to “Motor Carriers and Drivers.” 20-56 outlined how Minnesota’s public life and economy will begin re-opening, while trying to keep the number of new infections down to what our medicos can handle.
Our limited knowledge of what’s ahead encouraged folks running the Stearns County Fair to cancel this year’s get-together.3
I think they made a prudent decision. But July 29th through August 2nd is going to be unusually quiet around here. I live a few hundred yards north of the Stearns County fairgrounds.
That, apparently, makes me a sheeple.
Sheeple: in this context, one of those dupes who believe that dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is possible and a good idea.
And don’t believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is part of a conspiracy.
Learning that I’m a sheeple emerged from a conversation regarding the efficacy of face masks.
The upholder of open faces had said that face masks are not particularly effective at protecting the wearer from infection. Which is true, at least in many/most cases.4
I’d been wearing, and will continue to wear, a face mask for two reasons. First, it’s strongly recommended by the authorities in my area. Second, and more to the point, it’s a good way to reduce the odds that I will unwittingly spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus.4
I don’t think I’m infected. I’m probably not. But I don’t know for sure. And wearing a face mask in public is a simple and cheap way to reduce the risk of spreading a very infectious disease that occasionally kills people.
So, why should I care about infecting other people? Particularly since I say I’m a Christian and a Catholic. From some viewpoints, thinking about disease and public health is unspiritual. Worldly.
Here’s how I see it. Good health is a gift from God. Getting and staying healthy is a good idea. Within reason. Making good health my religion, not so much. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2112–2114, 2288–2289)
It’s not all about me. I live with and near other folks. Working for the common good and protecting human life is a good idea. (Catechism, One/Two/Article 2 Participation in Social Life/II: The Common Good, 1928–1942, 2258–2262)
I don’t think that’s so, for starters.
Granted, a few folks may use Memorial Day and similar holidays as opportunities to promote their brand of jingoism.
I figure most of us either don’t remember why there’s a three-day weekend right before June, or see Memorial as a day for remembering and mourning those who died in wars gone by.
Remembering and mourning the people. Not celebrating what killed them.
On the whole, I’d prefer living in a world where disputes between states could be resolved without mass homicide. We’re not there yet.
I think war is something to avoid.
And I think sometimes it’s better than the alternative. This may take some explaining.
I think human life is sacred. That’s why killing an innocent person is wrong. The divine image is in each of us; no matter who we are, who our ancestors are, or what we’ve done. (Genesis 1:27; Catechism, 357, 361, 369–370, 1700, 1730, 2268–2269, 1929, 2273–2274, 2276–2279)
Everyone’s life is precious. Yours, mine, everyone’s. That’s why defending myself, or yourself, using the least force necessary, is okay: even if that action results in the attacker’s death. (Catechism, 2263–2267)
That doesn’t make ‘I thought he was going to hit me, so I killed him’ an excuse for homicide.
These principles apply to individuals and nations. Or should. Each of us and all of us should do what we can to avoid war.
But sometimes a person or national leader threatens the lives of others and won’t be stopped by words. Using armed force to protect innocent folks is okay. Provided that doing so doesn’t cause other, worse, problems. What can I say? It’s complicated. (Catechism, 2307–2317)
“…Certainly, war has not been rooted out of human affairs. As long as the danger of war remains and there is no competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level, governments cannot be denied the right to legitimate defense once every means of peaceful settlement has been exhausted….”
(“Gaudium et Spes,” Pope Bl. Paul VI (December 7, 1965))
I think remembering, mourning and honoring those who were killed while serving this country is a good idea.
So is making good use of the life and freedom we have.
And considering the possibility that we can help build a better world.
“…The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization,” St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))
“For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be…
“…Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world….”
(“Locksley Hall,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1835))
I think cobbling together a reasonable facsimile of St. John Paul II’s civilization of love will take generations of hard work. Centuries. Maybe millennia. And that’s another topic, for another day.
- “Pandemic Perspectives”
(March 31, 2020)
- “Homer, Hegel, History and Hope”
(May 12, 2018)
- “Veterans Day 2017”
(November 10, 2017)
- “More Than a 3-Day Weekend”
(May 28, 2017)
- “Remembering Armistice Day”
(November 11, 2016)
- “5 Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Denver Airport”
Kate Erbland, MentalFloss.com (February 8, 2016)
- “YOU MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE HEARD. DEN’S GOT SOME SECRETS.”
“the full scoop on DEN’s wildest rumors,” FlyDenver.com
- “Stearns County Fair Canceled for 2020”
Pete Hanson, 98.1 Minnesota’s New Country (May 22, 2020)
- Emergency Executive Order 20-56
Governor Tim Walz (May 13, 2020) via Minnesota Legislative Reference Library