As Americans get ready for one of the biggest barbecue days of the year, it’s important to remember that Memorial Day is about honoring the lives lost in defense of our freedoms and liberties. However, it’s also become a huge weekend for sales on everything from grills to televisions. It’s almost impossible to find a retailer that isn’t pushing bargains in “celebration.” As we were discussing plans for the day last night, RipTen staff writer Catherine Cai shared with me something from GameStop’s Twitter account that she found to be in very poor taste.
After sharing this on her feed, a friend of hers, Retired Marine Sergeant Juan Vaca, replied in agreement. We followed up with Sergeant Vaca to get a better understanding of his objections.
War is grotesque and vile in nature and pushes ordinary people beyond their limits. Combat is not a glorified event but rather an experience that significantly changes those that have seen it first hand.
I personally have lost many brothers-in-arms to these wars, including my best friend, and Memorial Day is supposed to be the one day we set aside to honor and remember them. We as a nation are forever in the debt of those that have paid the ultimate price. We lose sight of the remembrance by focusing Memorial Day as a time for vacation and sales. I find it extremely disrespectful to the fallen, to use their day of remembrance as an opportunity to push products that remind us of war. It doesn’t honor the soldier or even glorify their sacrifice. It’s a sickening reminder that profit is to be made at the expense of others. We already tarnish the holiday by emphasizing our BBQs, pools and sales, but to specifically highlight war games and even worse, games that just happen to have combat in them is an act of disrespect. Let’s not forget that for every person that is gone, there is someone that is left behind, their life now altered by the loss.You can’t honor their remembrance respectfully if you put your profit above their sacrifice, especially with a product that disregards the humanity of an actual life.
For those that have served, and for families and friends of those in combat, Memorial Day isn’t about grilling hamburgers and opening the pool for the season. Sergeant Vaca’s sentiments are an important reminder of the daily sacrifice that allows the rest of us to participate in those activities. Playing games that are largely about min-maxing your loadout, perks and killstreaks so you can kill more “people” doesn’t seem like the right way to honor those that died to protect our liberties and way of life.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t play them (you have that freedom because of the men and women of our armed forces), but to do so for the express purpose of “honoring the fallen” seems antithetical. Memorial Day isn’t about glorifying the act of war, it’s about celebrating the lives of those who died in the name of peace. It isn’t about picking up a gun to shoot an enemy, it’s about rebuilding when the combat is over. It isn’t about those with the largest kill counts of anonymous faces, it’s about the individual soldiers who lived, loved and lost so that we can carry on in comfort and safety.
Despite what I think of GameStop, though, this sale is their right. Men and women died to protect it. I just think it’s the wrong way to say “thank you.”
From all of us at RipTen, thank you to the members of our armed forces. We are eternally grateful for your courage and sacrifice.