Can we recover the real Memorial Day?

Michael Warren

The crass commericalism of Memorial Day is overwhelming. Overstock.com asserts that “it wouldn’t be Memorial Day without a sale on your favorite home goods and summertime apparel.” IHOP suggests its diners should “celebrate Memorial Day” by buying red, white and blue pancakes.

We should honor Memorial Day, not cheapen it with pretty pancakes.

President Ronald Reagan remarked on a Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetary that the holiday “is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again.

“It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others.”

He remarked that “we owe them something, those boys ... a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, know that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.”

The hope that Memorial Day will ever entirely recover its original meaning might be a hopeless cause — the commercialization and habits of generations have undermined it too much.

That is why my daughter Leah and I created Patriot Week — with the hope of establishing a new civic calendar to renew the spirit of America. Patriot Week celebrates the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history.

Like Memorial Day, most of our current civic holidays have become overly commercialized and lost their deeper meaning.

Anchored by the key dates of Sept. 11 (the anniversary of the terrorists attacks) and Sept. 17 (Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution), Patriot Week is a grassroots effort that has taken off in Michigan and elsewhere.

Without such a civic renewal, we are doomed to forget what makes America unique, and lose ourselves in the process — a fate too terrible to contemplate. America needs your help.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren, author of “America’s Survival Guide,” is co-creator of Patriot Week.