Happy Remembrance Day? Why Some Military Families Wish You Didn’t Say This

For Amelia Greene, Memorial Day is anything but happy.

Greene lost his father, US Army Major General Harold Greene, when he was shot in 2014 at a training center in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“I’ve received ‘Happy Memorial Day’ in promotional emails from brands and it’s really painful to hear because it’s a day to remember people who have died in war,” Greene told TODAY Parents. “So it’s not happy, and it’s really not happy for me.

What is Memorial Day?

The holiday, celebrated annually on the last Monday in May, is a time to mourn American military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Amelia Greene with the casket of her father, U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene, at Arlington National Cemetery.Amelia Greene / Courtesy of Amelia Greene

“Memorial Day is a day off, it’s the start of summer, it’s a time to celebrate, but for anyone who has lost a loved one in war, it’s one of the worst days in life. the year, other than the day he was killed,” Greene said.

She continued, “One of the most hurtful things to hear or see when you’ve lost a parent is ‘Happy Memorial Day’. It’s something I’ve really struggled with since losing my dad.

Related: How to Observe Memorial Day and Help Military Families

Greene’s brother, Cpt. Matthew Greene said he thinks most people who wish others “Happy Memorial Day” have good intentions.

“Usually I just tell them I hope they have a great day,” he said. “Inside, I wonder if they understand what Memorial Day is and all the point of the holidays in the first place.”

The US Army captain followed in his father’s footsteps as an engineer officer.

“I think the best way to explain it to people when they wish me a ‘Happy Memorial Day’ is that between the beers and the hot dogs, I hope they take a moment to think about why Memorial Day exists,” he told TODAY. “People certainly deserve to have a good day on Memorial Day, but what I mean to them is, what good is Memorial Day if there’s no memory of why we take the day to think?

For Katie Vail, Memorial Day is a time to remember her late husband, Dimitri del Castillo, a US Army officer killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011 and recipient of the Purple Heart.

“The true meaning of Memorial Day,” Vail, herself a veteran, captioned a photo on Instagram of her sitting next to del Castillo’s grave in West Point. “It’s not about barbecues, days at the beach, or sales (although I enjoy all of that too!), it’s about taking time to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.”

Vail continued, “I’m now remarried and busy with three young children, but Memorial Day and every tough day every year still brings me to my knees and leaves me speechless.”

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