31May23: Memorial Day used to rotate on the calendar….

Dad’s second from the left, top row. This is the only full Thomas family photo, taken in 1934 when Dad graduated high school.

The 31st of May was my Dad’s birthday. It also used to be Memorial Day till Congress passed a bill making it just one of those three day holidays that now just welcomes in the summer months and is a commercial holiday to sell crap.

Dad was a builder who was so quality-focused there was only a .25 inch/6,35 mm variation from one side of the basement wall to the other. Detail was important to him and he could drive you crazy worrying about something so small no one but he could see it, like how straight drainpipes were hanging from the gutters. That nature was helpful to him in his job as a chief of police.

Dad never missed an election, even voted by absentee ballot his last year of life, 2008, dying, in fact, after elections were done Election Day, in his sleep. Born in 1916, Dad would have been 107 today. Like Mom, he is sorely missed.

Traditional Memorial Day on May 31st, too, is missed. It’s become a sad joke on the memories of those who died for their country. 

Memorial Day – Wikipedia

27 thoughts on “31May23: Memorial Day used to rotate on the calendar….

    • My Mom thought so. She waited till he was 21 to marry him but pursued him for five year before then. They were a couple, with the five years, for 75 years.

  1. I agree and think holidays should be on the correct day. Who cares if someone doesn’t get a three day weekend? That is not what Memorial Day is about. They did something similar with Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays. They combined them, put it on a Monday, and called it President’s Day. It is cool seeing the old photos of your dad. My mother’s mother was born in 1916 too but I think she died closer to 2002.

    • I agree about the February presidential birthdays.

      Washington and Lincoln were unique in that one was a co-founder of the nation as military leader, then first president who established the two-terms then retire precedent that lasted till FDR and Lincoln preserved the nation and continues to inspire through his address at Gettysburg and his role in emancipation of the slaves.

      Frankly, there are more average to mediocre presidents than ones of high caliber, so I think having the holiday for thm all is over much.

  2. You have written a fine tribute to your father, and family, Doug. Thanks for the additional background in your comment above. And yes, I agree, the commercialization of Memorial Day is very sad. That seems to happen to most holidays.

    • WED – 31 MAY 2023 AT 3:10 AM EDIT
      Thank you, Derrick. Dad regretted not serving in WWII. He was at the induction station in Denver, having signed for the US Navy, when the City Manager called telling them he couldn’t join because he was a critical person (chief of police) in the town plus he was married with two (shortly later) three children.

      I pointed out to him that he served his country, just not in the way he wanted to, that the Alliance Air Base tripled, quadrupled the size of the population. Though he had Military Police work with him from the base, his police problems were much more than before the base. (No, he didn’t buy that, but he was pleased both his boys served. My brother was a US Navy Seabee and I was, as most followers of this blog know, a US Army Motion Picture Photographer. He served in Guam and Thailand; I, of course, served in West Germany.)


      (People trained at the Alliance Air Base were among the paratroopers and glider people on D-Day, incidentally, Derrick.)

      Just how stressful the war was on the home front didn’t register with me. I suppose the movies made during the time gave me the sense everyone endured with a smile and a commitment to winning the war. Of course, they all danced and sang songs about wiping out Hitler or Tojo. It looked like fun.

      Rationing made raising children a chess game of matching ration stamps to rationed items needs, something your parents would have endured as well, of course. You may remember rationing, too, since it had to last there years after the war. (Brings to mind a very funny film about the complications of having a forbidden pig slated to become part of celebration of Princess Elizabeth’s marriage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Private_Function )

      Of course, war brought on the inevitable deaths and captures of families’ and friends’ sons and husbands. In my mother’s neighborhood, my Grandmother’s best friend’s only child, a son, was held as a POW by the Germans and another son of a friend was killed. I’m unaware of the others, but there was a memorial at the Courthouse that had all those who died in the war on it, like memorials all over the world after all wars. (Yeah, it truly pisses me off that a commercial event is what this holiday has become!)

      I talked my Mother into watching “A Beautiful Life”, which I enjoyed a lot, though it has a very bittersweet ending. After the movie, we had a cry, then I asked if she’d like to watch another WWII film, “Tea with Mussolini” that I’d seen and liked. “No,” she quietly said. “I lived through those years and I don’t want to remember them.” (Yes, she thought the movie was a good one, one she was glad she’d watched.)

      I was surprised because I’d never heard her talk about those years, let alone as ones that had been hard for people on the home front.



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