Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day should be devoid of politics and commercialism

A bill was shot down in the state senate this week that would have forced retail establishments to remain closed until noon on Memorial Day. I agree with the sentiment of keeping commercialism separated from Memorial Day, but rather than attempting to legislate appropriate behavior on this most solemn day, I wish people would take the time to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day by attending one of the commemorative events.

Politicians are ubiquitous at these events, but politics should not be. This is a day for honoring our military men and women who paid the ultimate price defending our nation and our way of life. I participated in the Town of Sandwich’s Memorial Day Parade each year that I served as a selectman and delivered a speech on the library lawn the year that I chaired the board.

Since we moved here in 1998, we have had a state representative who was a resident of the town and each year that person delivered a speech on the library lawn that was appropriate in tone and could not be construed as “campaigning.” Last year, our state representative delivered such a speech. It was educational, uplifting, right for the event, and appropriately honored several veterans and families of fallen soldiers.

The brouhaha that erupted wasn’t the result of the speech, but rather that he was accompanied by a candidate for state treasurer who was also a state representative. She sat with the elected dignitaries which created the impression that she and our representative were campaigning. Letter writers to the editor cried foul. The event had been hijacked by politicians using it as a campaign stopover, they said.

I videotaped the event and posted it on my blog the day after the event. Nothing in our representative’s speech could be construed as campaigning. Click here to see the video.

Nonetheless, the parade organizers were roundly criticized for this perceived partisan favoritism and have decided to avoid such negative publicity by “uninviting” our state representative to this year’s commemoration. I understand the hesitation to risk another round of criticism.

I have accepted an invitation to speak at the Mashpee event, which seems appropriate in light of the still simmering feelings about what was thought to have happened last year.

2 comments:

  1. You will be just fine, that is, if Mashpee does not have a selectman who sees partisan in anyone who does not agree with them.

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  2. That's very cool of you Randy but probably not necessary. I think most in Sandwich regardless of party were looking forward to hearing you speak. You have done a good job so far as our Rep. and clearly have a strong background in the town through your years on Fin Com and the BOS. Clearly you care about the town. I for one am sorry you won't be speaking in Sandwich. Good reaching out to Mashpee though.

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