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Memorial Day Weekend

(15 Posts)
sunseeker Tue 26-May-15 20:33:40

Last weekend was Memorial Day weekend in USA, pictures from America show them being unashamedly patriotic. It got me thinking about why we in UK don't seem able to show patriotism in a similar way. Whilst to British tastes American patriotism may be somewhat "over the top", I think we could show a little more patriotism than we do.

Jane10 Tue 26-May-15 20:45:43

There's always colossal interest in Royal occasions. The centenary of WW1 has been made much of too. I don't think we're any less patriotic than the Americans -we just show it differently.

tanith Tue 26-May-15 21:19:45

I think we are patriotic I just think we don't feel the need for all the hoo ha and razzmatazz the Americans like to indulge in..

HildaW Tue 26-May-15 21:42:03

We were in the US last year on Memorial Day - in Washington in fact and even got to see the Rolling Thunder. Its an odd mix of respectful reverence and joyful pageant quite unlike anything in the UK. I felt it had grown from their society and values and was not necessarily what we in the UK would all feel comfortable with. Massed parades of soldiers with costumed marching bands and cheerleaders seemed a little incongruous to me. However one of the elements was very moving. Volunteers, mainly youth groups, take it upon themselves to place a red rose on every grave in the Arlington Cemetery - it takes them all day but its seen as a duty and a privilege. Also many families with serving soldiers have an informal get together later in the day, a picnic or family meal which seemed a nice touch.

janeainsworth Wed 27-May-15 03:48:27

We were in Annapolis last weekend when it was Memorial Day and also Graduation Day from the US Naval Academy there.
The city is the State Capital of Maryland and the State House, the oldest Legislative building in the country in use today, is built on a small hill and dominates the 18th Century town. Most houses were flying different versions of the American flag and the small city was full of young people in naval uniforms celebrating.

I think we sometimes take our history, and our democracy, for granted. America is still a young country (the British were finally defeated at Fort McHenry, Baltimore only in 1814) and it is not surprising that they value their freedoms hard won through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

rubysong Wed 27-May-15 20:46:24

We were in a small US town for Memorial Day several years ago and it made us feel uncomfortable. It just wasn't the way we would do it. We didn't appreciate the 'blue star moms' and even less the 'gold star moms' proudly displaying the stars on their t shirts and their house windows. If I had tragically lost a child serving in the forces it would have been the last thing I would want to do.
They also had teenagers reading their essays on 'Why I am proud to be an American'.
We are not unpatriotic (DH was a Naval Officer and served for over thirty years) but the whole thing seemed crass and a bit warmongering.
I hope we never go down that road; give us the Poppy night service and the Military Wives Choir, that suits us better (IMHO)

rosequartz Wed 27-May-15 21:16:08

I agree rubysong

We do have moving events here; Remembrance Day services and the Festival of Remembrance; we recently had a very large Gallipoli service in our town. People wearing their poppies or sprigs of rosemary and quietly remembering loved ones who have fallen for our freedom.

One thing we did notice when we had the Gallipoli service recently - we were sent two small wooden crosses each inscribed with a moving verse from an Australian school child, with the request that we put them, if possible, on a memorial to an Australian soldier; we were able to do this as there is one in our local church.

Besides that, we have all the pageantry that comes with having a Royal Family - which some would like to do away with I know, with the danger that perhaps we would end up with something rather more like the American version of patriotism. I for one much prefer our more thoughtful, solemn, moving events, with some joyful occasions such as the Queen's Jubilee celebrations, and I am sure there are many Americans who envy us that.

rosequartz Wed 27-May-15 21:18:43

sunseeker we also had the display of poppies at the Tower of London not so long ago - a quiet and extremely moving memorial display imo.

Teetime Thu 28-May-15 09:22:10

DH has just suggested we are going to Armed Forces Day in Nottingham on 28th June. We went a couple of years ago when it was in Nottingham City centre it was so moving and exciting (Red Arrows always bring a lump to the throat)- we do have some very good events here.

janeainsworth Thu 28-May-15 12:35:24

The other thing to remember about Memorial Day weekend in America is that it is exactly that - a long weekend.
So it's not the same as our Remembrance Day which is a solemn occasion.
Most people in America get only 10 days' annual leave from their jobs (compared to 4 weeks statutory holiday in UK) so public holidays are even more happily anticipated than they are in UK.

grannyactivist Thu 28-May-15 13:07:42

I think we do remembrance very well in this country. My daughter and grandsons stayed with me earlier this week as we visited her late husband's grave on the anniversary of his death. A small plaque at the entrance to the cemetery is the only indication that there are commonwealth war graves there. In a few week's time we will visit the National Memorial Arboretum for the dedication there of the Camp Bastion Memorial Wall and I know that the service will be understated, sensitive and discreet.
I don't like the jingoism that is often evident in the American Memorial weekend 'celebrations'. Even apart from losing my son in law there I wish that we had kept out of Afghanistan, I also wish we hadn't gone to war with Iraq. War is not something to be glorified, but remembering those who lost their lives is a cause for reflection.

janerowena Thu 28-May-15 14:52:07

An American relative says that she finds all the celebrations exhausting. There is one every other week, she says, or so it seems, and you can be considered unpatriotic if you don't contribute and look happy about it. I would hate that.

NanaDenise Thu 28-May-15 15:06:55

Anyone remember Empire Day? We used to raise the Union Flag at school and sing the National Anthem. I'm sure the teachers would have done some geography and history as well.

HildaW Thu 28-May-15 15:30:49

I can remember Empire day at my Infants and junior school. We all dressed in red, white and blue and paraded around the playground - it was seen as a huge treat. Deeply un P.C. nowadays...we messed up far too many countries in our drive to establish and maintain an empire. At the time however, we were all very innocent about the reality.

In the present political climate I think we might even have trouble mounting a 'United Kingdom' day (if there was such a thing) which to me, seems very saddening.

janeainsworth Thu 28-May-15 16:31:46

I remember Empire Day too - we were allowed to go in our Brownie Uniforms to school.
janer that hasn't been my experience with our American family. Obviously they celebrate Thanksgiving, but nothing is seen as an obligation.

I don't think Americans are any more jingoistic than British people. Some are, most aren't.
i think when they celebrate, it is in gratitude for being able to live in a relatively free and democratic society.
I agree with you hilda about a United Kingdom day. The longer I live, the more I'm grateful for all the sacrifices that were made for us.