Memorial Day 2020

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

The column I expected to write for today isn’t here. Why? Because it’s Memorial Day weekend, so I thought I’d talk about that. I’m sure you’re already at the lake, or on the beach, or at Disney World having a great time with friends and family.

Oh, that’s not happening?

That wasn’t happening for the people we are memorializing either.

Memorial Day weekend is for many of us one of the bookends of summer. School is over. The weather is warmer. Theme parks open. The days last longer. Because this time of year can feel like paradise, the time that should be set aside for reflection and thanks becomes a weekend of beer and sun. While some of that is curtailed this year, many are seeing some normalcy returning, which itself seems like a holiday.

As I’ve said on previous Memorial Days, I don’t think our heroes would mind that we’re enjoying ourselves. Part of the reason they strapped on a pack, boarded a ship, or climbed into a plane was to make life safe and free for their descendants as well as for the rest of us. This is just my opinion, but I’m thinking they would rather look down and see their loved ones having a good time instead of sitting bleary-eyed, mired in memories of what-could-have-been.

What they’ve given is a gift. When you give a gift, you want the recipient to enjoy it, not worry that they were not worthy.  Of course, it is still both polite and right to say thank you. Later, when you are looking at or using the gift, you are given the gift again with the memory of who gave it to you.

I’m not a poet, but I thought of this when trying to tie Memorial Day to our days of pandemic:

Many of us are scared; They were scared too.

Many of us are separated from our loved ones; They were too…by an ocean.

Many of us are missing our favorite restaurants; They were happy to have anything that wasn’t a K-ration.

Our normality has been taken from us; Their lives were given for us.

So pop open a beer (root beer for me), have a hot dog, enjoy the day. And during it all, say a little thanks for those who gave so much. It’s only polite.