Why there’s no “happy” in Memorial Day

Updated May 27, 2017

Mama at war memorial by Jenny Zovein (Johnnie Come Lately, published by Camel Press).
Mama at war memorial by Jenny Zovein (Johnnie Come Lately, published by Camel Press).

The following passage is from my second novel,  Johnnie Come Lately.  (Reader discretion advised).

     Johnnie was about to rave on Granny’s baked beans

when Callie Ann piped up, “Hey, D.J., tell everybody what

happened this morning when you went to buy cigarettes.”

     D.J. looked up from his plate. He put his fork down and

cleared his throat.

     “So, I’m standing in line at the 7-Eleven. The guy in front

of me pays for his stuff and says to this young female

cashier,‘Happy Memorial Day.’ Man, I thought that chick

was going to come over the counter. She shoves the guy’s change at him and

snarls, ‘What’s so fucking happy about Memorial Day?’ ”

     Johnnie cringed.

     Before anyone could say something, D.J. picked up his

plastic fork and stabbed at a pile of baked beans. “Sorry about

the F-bomb,” he apologized. “I’m just reporting what I heard.”

     Johnnie took a deep breath and reached for Brother’s head.

As usual, he was at her side, waiting for a scrap to fall. She

needed to hold onto the one member of the family who wouldn’t judge her.

Wouldn’t judge any of them.

     Running her fingers through his soft fur, she said what

needed to be said.

     “Well, considering that my father died in war, I have to agree

with that young lady at the 7-Eleven. There’s absolutely nothing

happy about Memorial Day. It’s a day set aside to honor the

war dead.”


“I’m frustrated by people all over the country who view the day as anything but a day to remember our WAR DEAD. I hate hearing “Happy Memorial Day.” Jennie Haskamp, United States Marine Corp Veteran, for Washington Post.


Published by


Author of the novels The Final Salute, Johnnie Come Lately & Seven Wings to Glory. Former contributor to Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. Future work represented by agent Diane Nine, Nine Speakers Inc.

6 thoughts on “Why there’s no “happy” in Memorial Day”

    1. Hi Elaine,
      Thank you so much for stopping by and reading this brief passage from Johnnie. This gives you a peek into her soul and the heart of her family. Congratulations again on our national book award for Leaning Into Love. 🙂


  1. Since my release from The United States Marine Corps in 1965 I have never “wished a happy Memorial Day”. I think my reaction to that “wish” would be similar or more forceful.


    1. Dear Lloyd (aka, Red),

      What a complete honor to have you visit my blog and comment. I respect you so much for your service to our country.
      You have my deepest respect and total admiration, Lloyd.
      We think of you everyday…



  2. I really never thought about the words Happy Memorial Day until you pointed it out in your book and on your link. Now, I see that it isn’t a happy day, but a day of feeling proud of our many many and women who gave their life for America’s freedom. God bless all the families of all these men and women who served our country. <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *