Showing posts from June, 2010

US Memorial Day, American and European approaches to patriotism

My children asked me what Memorial Day commemorates. Like many Americans of my generation I never gave Memorial Day much thought beyond associating it with a day off work, barbecues and the beginning of summer. While I had a feeling it had something to do with honoring Americans who had died in wars, I didn’t know the exact answer so I looked it up in Wikipedia, where I learned that it was

« First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War – it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War – it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars. »

The Civil War origin is interesting because, for Americans, this was the most devastating war we have ever fought in terms of American casualties ; the only war since American Independence to have been fought on our own soil and the only war to have significantly impacted American civilians.

I was touched to see many of my American friends on Facebook post pictures of tombstones of the…