Remembering What Memorial Day Is All About

For years, Memorial Day weekend for me meant driving up the turnpike to a cemetery in northeastern Pennsylvania. But this time, I didn’t go, and it took getting some holiday email to make me realize what I was missing most.

For years, Memorial Day weekend for me meant driving up the turnpike to a cemetery in northeastern Pennsylvania. But this time, I didn’t go, and it took getting some holiday email to make me realize what I was missing most.

So let me explain. It was kind of an obligation I accepted, to go and tend the graves of my mom’s side of the family. I would pack my pruning shears, a garden trowel, and a watering can. Somewhere along the way, I’d stop for flowers to plant. And, I’d buy some new flags for those relatives who served and died for our country.

My brother took care of all that this year. But my guilt at not going returned, thanks to a few of the dozens of Memorial Day email campaigns from the last couple of weeks.

Most email is about sales, the start of summer, a three-day weekend, etc. You see lots of images of barbeques and beaches. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That kind of Memorial Day email works well.

And, sure, there’s some red, white and blue, or stars-and-stripes in the designs to create a patriotic feeling. There may be a brief message about supporting our men and women in the military. But email that talks at length about who the holiday commemorates is pretty scarce.

LGOne exception that stopped me cold was an article I saw in LG’s May newsletter, “Life’s Goodness.” The teaser asked: “[D]o you really know what Memorial Day is all about?”  The story recounted how the holiday began in the 19th century as Decoration Day, to remember the dead from the Civil War.

dakAnother electronics marketer, Sol Harari of DAK Industries, took a slightly different tack. His email linked to a Memorial Day quiz on his company’s website. He also offered this perfect sentiment: “Personally, the more I learn about our rich history, the more connected I feel to our values, our country and our people.”

AmGiantTopI also liked an email from American Giant, the apparel brand, that paid tribute to “the sacrifice of the American servicemen and servicewomen who keep us safe.”

It announced that sales from one of its collections would be given to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The email explained that the group provides financial assistance as well as scholarships to families of Special Operations forces who are killed in action.

We hear a lot about the bad stories around the Armed Services: the scandals around the VA, sexual assault, PTSD and suicide, and the disrespect of former POWs.

But these marketers speak of what is the best of America. They deliver content and action that honors those who have served and died while serving a cause greater than themselves.

I’ll pause and remember our country’s war dead this year. And I’ll be back at the cemetery next Memorial Day.

5 thoughts on “Remembering What Memorial Day Is All About”

  1. Thank you, Paul, for taking a risk of “straying” from the usual content to remind us of what really matters. Your article touched me.

    1. You’re welcome! We can always talk “business.” But there are times when some issues transcend all that. And it’s even more needed with all of the divisiveness in the country right now.

  2. My thanks to you for this great article. I appreciate your examples of the companies that support America’s troops and are willing to spend money advertising their support.

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