So I can spend more time with my family, I am turning this column over to a bright fourth-grade student from an unnamed American small town.
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Hi. My name is Liam. My history teacher, Mr. Burkhalter, assigned us to write a 500-word essay about lack of public appreciation for the significance of Memorial Day.
My grandpa suggested titling the essay “They’ve fallen, and our enthusiasm can’t get up.” Grandpa says a lot of things that make us check his pill box.
Mr. Burkhalter, whom you may recall I already mentioned two paragraphs ago, drives a long, long, long way to instruct us kids, including Jenny and Claire and Eliot and Noah (how am I doing with the word count?), so I paid close attention when he said that Memorial Day is a day to honor those Armed Forces members who made the ultimate sacrifice.
After he explained that these brave men and women died so the rest of us could enjoy our freedoms, I decided that “ultimate sacrifice” is indeed an appropriate term.
But I just want to state for the record that sharing a room with my little brother must rank as the next to ultimate sacrifice. Sure, the Kaiser used chemical warfare, but he never tossed Petey’s dirty socks into the trenches. Google it.
It’s hard to imagine the hardships our heroes endured, often short of food, short of medical supplies, short of pronouns …
The beginning of the observance that evolved into Memorial Day took place way back in 1868. Gen. John A. Logan probably had lots of time to organize such solemn ceremonies because I understand that the video games back then were totally lame. Don’t get me started on the Pony Amazon riders.
Even though many people treat Memorial Day as just another three-day weekend (Indy 500! Action movies! Trip to the beach!), it has become part of the American fabric. (Speaking of fabric, they are having a big Memorial Day sale at Clem’s Clothing Castle. Sing a verse of “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” — whatever that is — and get 10 percent off your order.)
Grown-ups often refer to Memorial Day as “the unofficial start of summer.” You would think that summer would be grateful that humans granted it an unofficial start, but it is usually a case of “I got your mosquitoes and heat right here, pal.”
Memorial Day has become a lot like fun-focused Independence Day, except without the fireworks (unless Mom catches Dad showing off his “Kiss the Cook” apron a little too suggestively with Ms. Houlihan down the street).
Do you know what would be a neat way to celebrate Memorial Day? You know all those books about the cities you must visit before you die and the foods you must eat before you die and the movies you must watch before you die? Maybe one of my classmates will write “The 100 Warmongering Politicians You Must Get Rid of Before You Die.”
I appreciate our hard-won opportunities. If not for fallen patriots, I might be speaking a foreign language, with phrases like “three channels” and “play outdoors” and “here’s the change from your fill-up.”
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Thanks, Liam. I hope you’ve inspired everyone to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. today. I can almost smell the bombs bursting in air. … No! Wait! It’s Petey’s socks!!!
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”