Leave it to us Americans to turn Memorial Day into a Coors Light-fueled, jeans short-wearing bacchanalian display of all things cheeseburger.
Seriously: On a day meant to -- very literally - memorialize those who lost their lives in war, we instead break out the Kid Rock CDs and get all bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy with ourselves.
And while on the surface this seems wrong on just about every level, it does kind of jive with our uniquely American ability to completely forget about the past the moment it happens.
Listen: We're Americans, and we do the whole "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on' bit better than just about any other group of people in the world. No matter what befalls us, we seem to be able to move forward pretty quickly. To wit: We don't care if we get a little potato salad in our Coors Light; we'll still slug it back. We don't care if we splortz a little ketchup on our jorts (jeans + shorts = jorts); we'll dab at it half-heartedly and stuff another hot dog in our mouth. And we don't care if we happen to forget the whole reason we're celebrating Memorial Day; we'll just go ahead and celebrate and not give much thought to what, exactly, we're "celebrating.'
Because really, it's pretty easy to not think about it.
For instance, did you know there's supposed to be a minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time Monday? (And while we're "did you know'-ing ... this whole "last Monday in May' was created by Congress in 1968 to create this three-day weekend, and before the law was changed, Memorial Day was May 30, and if it fell on a Wednesday, so be it. And furthermore, it wasn't even an "official' holiday until 1967, even though it started back in 1868 and was called Decoration Day to honor lives lost in the Civil War and ... well, you can Google it yourself.)
But yes, really: You'd think for a country that's lost over 1.3 million young men and women to war, we'd do a better job with Memorial Day. By all rights, it should be a somber affair. Less Coors Light, more deep thinking. Less cheeseburgers, more contemplation. Less "Bawitdaba,' more "Picture' featuring Sheryl Crow.
But it's not. It's a party day, the unofficial start to summer day. And yeah sure, we have our local celebrations, our local parades, our local moments of reflection. But when it comes to our "one nation' getting together on this one, we're not quite there, not by a longshot.
And so while I applaud our ability to carry forth (and to wear jorts without irony) maybe, just maybe, we could get together on this whole "minute of silence' thing. Other countries -- again, based on nothing more than my Google search -- seem to do a better job with their moment of silences on their Memorial-type days. In fact, many countries have two minutes of silence.
Now granted, two minutes of silence is too much for us Americans -- that's retail silence, right there -- but a minute feels just about right. And so yeah, even to this wannabe hippie dippy it would feel right if at 3 p.m. everyone was on board and turned off the Kid Rock and went ahead and had that moment of silence. Doesn't matter if you're a dove or a hawk, doesn't matter your stance on the idea of war in general, doesn't matter what you believe America is, was, could or should be -- I think it's a fair bet to say we can all agree lives lost to war are lives worth memorializing, if just for a moment.
Just think about it: If World War II broke a different way ... or the Civil War. ... or the Revolutionary War ... or any number of lesser battles, we'd be a much different society today, and certainly not for the better. We'd still have jorts, I'm sure, but I can't imagine Kid Rock would have had an easy time getting state-sanctioned.
Jeff Edelstein can be reached at facebook.com/jeffreyedelstein and twitter.com/jeffedelstein.