Memorial Day: Beyond The Sales

May 28, 2004

By Al McClain

Over the past few decades, at least, Memorial Day has become more of a retailing event than anything else. Of course, there have been a few services at veterans’ cemeteries and a few flowers laid, but there really hasn’t been much that has national impact. Instead, folks shop, barbecue, enjoy the beach, take in a ball game, and generally enjoy a day off. While there isn’t anything wrong with that, this year is a good one to take a look back and remember those who have fallen in the service of their country.

World War II veterans are falling away at an all too rapid pace. With them goes part of our national recollection of the greatest conflict to date – what it meant and cost.

According to the White House Commission on Remembrance, only 28% of Americans know the meaning of Memorial Day. Unfortunately, we now have an up close and personal way of learning about its meaning as the dead and wounded come back from Iraq.

So, in addition to the “Memorial Day Blow Outs” and “Our Biggest Sale Ever,” maybe we could all take a step back and think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could live as we please.

Moderator’s Comment: What can individuals and retail businesses do to honor the true meaning of Memorial Day?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance, which is officially at 3PM local time on Memorial Day. This year it will be observed on Monday, May 31. To
    find out more, please visit A minute of silence
    in your stores would be a terrific gesture.

  2. Wal-Mart is in its third year of a flag disposal program with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Between May 31 and June 14, shoppers can visit any
    Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club or Neighborhood Market to drop off used American flags for proper disposal by the VFW.

  3. Read some of the personal observations of D-Day in this week’s Time magazine. They are really compelling and give one an idea of what the “Greatest
    Generation” really sacrificed to ensure our freedom. The stories can be found at

  4. Thank someone or the family of someone who served (or serves) in the military for their service. (Thanks to my own favorite WW II veteran — Dad!)

Al McClain – Moderator

Editor’s Note: We understand well intentioned, caring and intelligent people can have differing opinions on U.S. foreign policy and the use of its military
power. We request, however, that all comments in this discussion be restricted to exploring the role individuals and businesses can play in honoring those remembered for their
sacrifice on Memorial Day. Thank you.

George Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, RetailWire

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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