A long time ago Memorial Day was kidnapped and reprogrammed so that we forget its original purpose — Remembrance of the Civil War Dead and the Civil War itself
The evidence just keeps mounting that people like Jerry Kassar and his so-called Conservative Party have nothing to do with conservatism at all — he and his ilk are no more than the faux right wing of a vast liberal establishment that wants to obliterate an America that practices its traditional values. Kassar’s “Common Sense” column this week is another pile of such evidence (See “COMMON SENSE: The Gold Star pin” by Jerry Kassar, 5/20/14, Home Reporter/ Spectator [http://www.homereporternews.com/opinion/common-sense-the-gold-star-pin/article_a6fcc45c-e138-11e3-89a7-001a4bcf887a.html]). Anybody who might have been moved, influenced or informed by Kassar’s column about a few contemporary or recent Memorial Day observances is completely deracinated — they don’t know their history; and as a result, they have a false consciousness of the society around them and how it got that way.
Kassar starts out by giving a little history lesson about the “Gold Star Pin,” something that began in 1947, giving a little footnote to the WW II “Gold Star Mothers.” Then there is the BIG LIE in Kassar’s column for this week: “The pin itself is small but distinctive. If you encounter an individual wearing the star, you will notice it. In all likelihood if you attend the Kings County Memorial Day Parade you will see more than a few. *** I hope all will respect and honor those families wearing the pin. Memorial Day is truly about these families.” With one feel-good phrase, "Memorial Day is truly about these families," Kassar is flushing a huge piece of our national history and national consciousness down the drain. But he didn’t stop there.
Kassar then turned his telescope wrong-way-round and looked at a local MIA-flag ceremony, largely conducted at the behest of – and as a PR move by – his Brooklyn Conservative Party, as if it should be a major aspect of a real American’s Memorial Day. It isn’t, and it needn’t be; Memorial Day is so much bigger than that.
In any case, the underlying premise of the MIA-flag ceremony as conducted by Kassar’s Conservatives does not ring soundly on any note. His/ Their message vis a vis our MIAs is that “We Shall Never Forget.” My riposte to that vague and hollow remark is very simple — “Why should anybody believe you ? You clearly have forgotten so much already.”
For the purpose of this post, I’ll focus on what Kassar seems to have forgotten about Memorial Day as it traditionally has been celebrated in America. Memorial Day originated in several locales during and shortly after the American Civil War. Initially, “nationally” celebrated on May 30th as “Decoration Day” after 1868, the holiday for decorating graves evolved into a more widely-celebrated event. Even though Memorial Day parades and celebrations eventually became commonplace, the holiday was not universally embraced at its inception – inasmuch as the “Decoration Day” was initially intended to honor Union dead during their service in the Grand Army of the Republic. Even now, some formerly Confederate states retain days for separately honoring Confederate soldiers that died in the conflict.
Over time, acceptance of Memorial Day, as a single holiday, broadened until it became the principal national day of remembrance. In 1882, the term "Memorial Day" first came into use, however it was not widely accepted until after World War II. The holiday remained focused on the Civil War until just after World War I, when it was expanded to include those Americans who had fallen in all the country’s conflicts. With this expansion, many of the Southern states that had refused to take part prior to the era of the World Wars began to observe the day.
Memorial Day should be kept in its proper historical prospective. The special status of the Civil War dead must remain paramount on this national holiday. America’s bloodiest war — The Civil War — was a war that this nation waged against itself for reasons that are convoluted and controversial even to this day. Whatever it was that fueled and started the Civil War, there were more “war dead” from that war than all of Americas’s other conflicts combined (it also remains as the single largest producer of military casualties in our history). The lingering results of that war are still a great festering national sore that might yet destroy this country. Unless Americans learn as much as they can about their greatest internal upheaval, they will never be able to deal with all of the residue, effluence and effluvium of that conflict, some of which still afflicts this nation to its core.
People like Kassar, who look and only see the hoopla of those waving flags for the fallen of recent wars, hurt true American conservatives who urge their fellow citizens to take a look with a longer view of their holidays and their history.
I’m sure there will be more to say about all of this when Kassar gives us his views about The Fourth of July.