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Shnay: A modest proposal for two special holidays

Updated: August 2, 2013 6:10AM



This Thursday, things get back to normal in Park Forest — if you consider celebrating a national holiday anywhere in the United States to be a “normal” day.

Last year, if you remember, because of the reconstruction of Orchard Drive, the village’s annual Independence Day Parade was canceled, and the fireworks were shot off on the grounds of Rich East High School.

This year, Orchard Drive is a breeze — although our friend Bert still complains about those “long lights” — so the parade will again wind its way around Central Park. But this time it will end on Main Street near the Village Green stage, where a free two-hour band concert will be capped by fireworks in Central Park.

The Fourth of July is our special American holiday, but it is not our only national commemoration. The last Monday in May is reserved for tributes to members of our Armed Forces who, for the last 237 years, have given their lives so that we can grill brats, drink beer and wave our flags on Independence Day.

There was once a time when Memorial Day was always observed on May 30, but for one reason or another, mostly a desire to give us a three-day holiday than anything else, Memorial Day began its floating journey on the calendar.

These days, however, I suspect that the nation’s solemn tribute to its fallen warriors may have fallen victim to annual mattress sales and miscellaneous commerce.

Recently, someone whose thoughts I value told me there are countries that combine their memorial holiday with their Independence Day celebration. How unusual that seems, and somehow how appropriate it feels.

So, ladies and gentlemen, if I am elected president of the United States one of the first things I will do is to give this country a two-day national holiday — moving Memorial Day to July 3 where we will first honor the sacrifices made by our military service men and woman on the day before we celebrate our freedom with parades and fireworks.

Children will go to school throughout May, Memorial Day sales brochures stuffed in our mailboxes and littering our email sites will be delayed by five weeks. Perhaps in its place we may gain a better understanding of the true price tag that comes with our liberty.

Alas, our holidays are staggered throughout the year for lots of reasons. Some will complain about my proposal, arguing that the economy will suffer when, in most years, workers will have two consecutive days away from work in the middle of a hot
July week.

There are costs and there are costs. Please consider that this nation spent roughly $375 million last year dressing up our cats and dogs for Halloween and another $3 billion on Christmas gifts for pets.

Honoring our soldiers with a memorial wreath may be cheaper than buying a taco suit for the dog.

Hearing a trumpeter sounding “Taps” a day before a band plays “Stars and Stripes Forever” costs nothing and will be more meaningful than a stocking full of snacks for the cat.

Doors close, doors open

In my previous column, the subject was the closing of Congregation Am Echad, the last Jewish synagogue in Park Forest, the retirement of their rabbi, Sholom Podwol, and their move to Homewood’s B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom where they will hold their own service each Saturday.

This past Saturday, Rabbi Podwol and BYBS Rabbi Ellen Dreyfus, who is also stepping down, conducted a joint service for both congregations.

Some may recall that Rabbi Dreyfus was the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom, a Park Forest synagogue before it merged with the temple in Homewood.

If that were not enough, starting next month, a new rabbi, Carmit Harari, will serve both congregations with separate services in the same building.

All this is part of a shifting religious and societal map in the south suburbs. Stay tuned, there are more changes coming.



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