29 May 2007

Memorial Day

Memorial Day. It's seems to me that it's just a day that the government set aside to make a perfunctory display of respecting the dead. In my family, and many other families, this is a weekend to go to the lake, or have a barbecue and friends and family over for a good time, or just relax by doing nothing, or all of the above. We tend to visit graves on the birthdays of the deceased and other special days, like Mother's or Father's day, etc. And I've always wondered, how much respect for the dead does the average person actually have?

In ancient times, ancestors, recently deceased or long-removed, were revered to the point of worship in some cultures. Offerings of animal sacrifices, food, wine and flowers were given in the name of respect and love for the dead. But today, it seems we have little reverence for the dead, perhaps even less respect than we show our elderly. How many tales of kids getting drunk in cemeteries and damaging markers have we all heard? Of course, that's just kids being kids, right? Or is it a symptom of a larger problem? I wonder about the parents of those kids who knock over headstones and cause other trouble. Do those parents regularly visit family graves or do they disdain the dead? Does outright disrespect for the dead run in families? I don't know, I'm not a sociologist or whatever -ist that studies that type of thing. I have more questions than answers; what are your thoughts?

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