If you are looking for a Memorial Day sale from my company you will have to keep looking. Yet, rest assured I am sure you will see many. They will plaster our newspapers, televisions and radio spots with Memorial Day sales.
I will confess that before I served in the military (2002-2010), I would often get Memorial Day and Labor Day confused. Because, well…they meant the same thing to me and that was a day at the lake away from work. So I don’t fault anyone for having same views or any company for having a Memorial Day sale. With that said. My company won’t and here is why…
Memorial Day is the day as a nation that we take to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. Some companies will see this as a holiday to offer you ‘BUY ONE GET ONE FREE’ or ‘20% DISCOUNT’. My question to you is if your son or daughter paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and you owned a company on Memorial Day would you advertise:
In honor of my son’s sacrifice in Iraq, you get 20% off all our merchandise
Of course you wouldn’t. So why would you do it on the day that honors another mom or dad’s son or daughter?
Let’s face it. When you offer a sale on Memorial Day it isn’t because you want the customer to give you less money. It is because you hope to earn more money by having a sale or creating a customer for your business. The irony is when the men and women who lost their lives for our country enlisted they didn’t do so out of hopes of self promotion. Instead, they wrote a check payable to the United States of America for an amount equal to the value of their life and hoped it would never be cashed. They asked no promotion from you in order to serve or sacrifice, yet many companies use this day designed to honor them to capitalize on patriotism and make a buck.
To show our gratitude to these heroes, we should ask for no promotion of our businesses to honor them. We should honor them selflessly as they selflessly served. What I think most don’t get is losing their life was without question the worst case scenario. However, the overall scenario even for the ones who returned isn’t that great. They left mom’s, dad’s, wives, husbands and kids for a year at a time. They knew 100% this would happen and they still signed up. If that’s not selfless I don’t know what is and turns out that was the least of their sacrifice for the fallen.
If you feel compelled for your company to acknowledge Memorial Day, do what many restaurants do and offer a free meal or product for those who served.. I have no problem with that or even a discount to the military. Might you gain a customer out of this? Sure. But if you primary goal is to gain a customer and not that of gratitude and respect for the fallen then what a lousy reward for you. You could have had so much more with different motives.
Or perhaps make a donation to a veterans cause with 100% of the profit from sales that day. My company will never have a sale where we make a profit because of the loss of life of another.
Is it wrong to have a Memorial Day sale? I don’t think so. But it is a bridge I won’t cross as a company owner. There are 364 other days to have a sale. For the love of all that’s good in the world have a Flag Day sale, Summer Solstice sale, St Patricks Day sale, Ground Hog Day, Tax Day, Arbor Day or even Idaho Human Rights Day.
Is it the same as a 4th of July sale? I don’t know. Certainly that day is possible because of the sacrifice of many, however that day isn’t set aside to acknowledge specifically the sacrifice. Our brave men and women served and gave their lives so you could have the freedom to listen to whatever music you wanted, enjoy Hollywood movies, drink whatever you wanted and celebrate and have parties however and whenever you want. So in honor of them, by all means don’t walk around with a long face all day on Memorial Day. Instead, celebrate and have fun enjoying the freedoms you have in honor of them. Honor them, have fun, show them respect but take a break from promotion of your business on that day (if you are tying that promotion to Memorial Day ).
Playing on the patriotism of many to make a buck off the loss of life of another should make you uneasy. Don’t condemn the businesses having sales. I don’t. They most likely haven’t looked at it from this perspective and I understand that. I haven’t always. However now that you have, perhaps reconsider if those are your marketing plans.
Honor the fallen by having a great time enjoying the freedoms they made possible and respecting them by promoting only the honor of their sacrifice and not your business.
Veteran of the War in Afghanistan 2007
US Navy, Petty Officer 1st Class (2002-2010)