The past few years we’ve taken Memorial Day off and republished a couple of essays we’re especially proud of about the veterans of unpopular wars and our dear pal and American hero Chief Two Toes, but this is a different sort of Memorial Day and requires different thoughts.
This Memorial Day the United States is on the verge of surpassing 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus, which is more than died during all of the military conflicts America has had starting with the Vietnam War. This has resulted in the worst economic output contraction and highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression, as well as the most angry public divisiveness we can recall since the Vietnam War. Memorial Day traditionally announces the lazy, hazy, cray days of summer, and Americans will once again be crowding together at the lakes and beaches and bars, but we can’t shake a certain foreboding sense about it.
By presidential order the flags will fly at half-mast today, not in honor of our nation’s many fallen military heroes but rather to acknowledge the nearly 100,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus. That’s a downer on the first day of summer for anyone who might notice, but it’s a point worth making, and a rare and welcome gesture of empathy from President Donald Trump.
As much as hate to publish another anti-Trump screed on Memorial Day, he’s been especially awful over the weekend. On Friday and Saturday he was insisting that churches and other houses of worship be immediately reopened, but on Sunday morning he was playing golf. He spent much much of the weekend “re-tweeting” baseless claims that a cable network critic is a murderer, that erstwhile Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a “skank,” and that Georgia politician and potential Democratic vice-presidential nominee Stacey Abrams is fat, as if Trump isn’t. He didn’t “tweet” so much about the United States coming together to overcome any challenges on this solemn holiday.
Trump will be at Arlington National Cemetery today, which has a reassuringly traditional feel about it, then at historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, which Trump has derided as a rat-infested hellhole and where the mayor says Trump’s not welcome and the visit sends a bad signal about the need for continued coronavirus vigilance, which reminds us that these are weird times. We can well understand anyone’s urge to get down to the beach or the lake or the golf course, and have noted that fewer people have been dying of coronavirus over the past few weeks. We can also understand the decline might be a result of people mostly staying home, and being very careful when going out for essential needs, and that if everyone feels safe we might see another spike in the deaths rates and no improvement in the economy by Election Day.
So far we have no idea how it will turn out, but are hoping for the best, no matter what that turns out to be. Summer is our very favorite time of the year, and we wish all of you a great one, but also advise that you fasten your seat belts for a bumpy ride.
— Bud Norman