Rethinking Memorial Day. Let's Not Forget What It Means and the True Costs.

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Today is a special day in America, particularly now and it is not another holiday. Over lunch I was watching TV, these military moms talked about their fallen loved ones. My heart aches so much when I hear each of them telling how old their sons were when they lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are 19 to 22 year old young men (and women) that never had the opportunity to experience life.

My heart goes out to every military mom and dad who has a child fighting over in Iraq or Afghanistan. How I wish we could just bring our boys (and girls) home. It is time to bring them home. The war has become pointless. And yesterday I was watching the movie Green Zone, depressing indeed

For those Americans that are shopping happily in malls today, I am afraid you’ve forgotten what this day is for. This is not a holiday for shopping or vacation. Suddenly this day has turned into 48 inches LCD sale and 30% off your Armani jeans. This is the day for Americans to rethink their role in the world and remember the fallen heroes. We need to limit commercial activities and instead organize events and to think about what have gone wrong and to help the families of all those fallen heroes.

For those designers out there, you should be thinking about how to turn this day back into what it should be. Not only, you should think about new ways to make it relevance to the younger generation. War is not what they see in PS3 ‘Modern Warfare’ or ‘Call of Duty.’ Today’s young people see and understand things differently and often lack the patience to think about things. Let’s start with every video war games to have a history section. I like this idea. And may be all war games sale should contribute some profits to help the returning soldiers or educate young people the true cost of war and why we should avoid it at all costs. Why not? They’re making tons of money from them.

Forget the marching bands parading down main streets, it is boring. We need to make this relevance to younger people so that they understand what price we have to pay for freedom and sometimes bad policies.

Here’s an example. There is an Iraq Body Count Exhibit, a traveling installation that plants red and white flags in public spaces around Memorial Day to help visualize the deaths of both Iraqi soldiers and US associated with the Iraq war. It takes 200 volunteers to set up, very powerful and experiential. It helps people visualize the impact of war in a relevant way, and disrupts behavior. Steve McCallion (Ziba Design Creative Director) presents a few interesting ideas from quieting our social networks in observance to asking companies to celebrate country over commerce. I think we can use a little design thinking here. Reinventing the Memorial Day. And please don’t go shopping today.

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