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An Englishman I was talking with at a barbecue yesterday asked me to explain the difference between Memorial and Veterans Days. I gave my best, albeit incomplete answer – that Memorial Day remembers those who have died in combat and that Veterans Day is more about honoring the living veterans. I managed to recall that Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day to mark the end of WWI but had forgotten (until I checked the Department of Veteran Affairs website) that Memorial Day began as Decoration Day after the Civil War, as a time to decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate fallen soldiers. Each observance was established in response to a specific conflict but has expanded to encompass so many more conflicts. How very sad that is and how challenging it continues to be to properly remember and honor both the dead and living warriors while lamenting the wars they are called upon to fight.

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Mother’s Day is a holiday, I guess. It’s more than a private observation but seems less than those old standbys that celebrate religious holy days or nation-founding, national independence or national heroes. On Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day), businesses that would normally be open on Sunday (which itself used to be a major holiday) are open and those people who normally work on Sundays are working. Yes, there are Mother’s Day sales and Mother’s Day brunches. Still, it was weird to hear someone say last Friday, “Have a nice holiday.” But maybe that’s me. Mother’s Day isn’t my holiday; my mom is no longer living and I never had kids. I always feel a little excluded and a little sad, to be honest. However, I did receive a card from the dog, thanking me for all I do. I suspect a human hand behind her thoughtful gesture but even so, it’s nice to know I’m appreciated.

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