Back in the 1970s, we said "Happy Memorial Day" and it was OK.
It wasn't because we didn't know any better. It was just a different time.
Memorial Day was a happy time for kids in the 1970s. The school year was ending, the community pools officially opened, and there were parades and picnics.
Children clearly understood the importance and purpose of Memorial Day. In the 1970s, every elementary school classroom had an American flag, and students recited the Pledge of Allegiance each day before anything else happened.
We made figures of Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin in art class, took class trips to see the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell, and watched Schoolhouse Rock. By the time Soul Train was on, we were ready to go out and conquer the world. America was #1.
We knew what it meant to be American, had a strong sense of our roots, and unwavering pride in our nation. We were well aware of the cost of freedom; we saw it in the eyes of the men and women who saluted as they raised the American flag, but nobody dwelled on it. Perhaps it was still too raw, or maybe the grown-ups were protecting our innocence by being upbeat rather than solemn.
These patriotic quilts from the 1970s bring me back to the days when Memorial Day was a happier occasion. We were always indebted to the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom, but we expressed it differently
In the 1970s, we did not have to make sure everyone knew the difference between Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veteran's Day. We knew, and we honored our fallen heroes with the type of festive, patriotic celebration they might have enjoyed. Maybe that's what they would've wanted.