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Mom of fallen Arizona Marine has message for Memorial Day: Be respectful

With Memorial Day approaching, many people will enjoy a day away from the office, maybe shopping, traveling or firing up the grill. An Arizona mom is asking people to pause for a moment.

“Happy Memorial Day” is not a phrase Margy Bons wants to hear.

“You know, people say things like, well, it's a great day, and it’s like, not so much, really,” she said.

In May 2005, Margy Bons’ son, Marine Sgt. Michael Adam Marzano, was killed during combat in Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Phoenix, Arizona. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom his unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). 

She wants people to know the commercialization and vacation mentality around the holiday can be especially difficult.

“As long as they remember, “ Bons said. “That’s the thing — it’s like, don't forget.”

“Just be respectful and acknowledge the day because if you don't understand why you have that day off, you really need to stop and think about that. It's not just a Monday, it's Memorial Day,” she said. 

On Memorial Day, a national moment of silence takes place at 3 p.m. local time to remember and honor the 1.2 million people who’ve died in military service.  The National Cemetery Administration’s website has a history of Memorial Day, which was originally known as Decoration Day.

In honor of her son, Bons founded the Military Assistance Mission, or MAM. The non-profit provides financial and morale support. 

“He was a sergeant and he volunteered to go to Iraq,” said Margy Bons.

Her son died while conducting combat operations in Hadithah, Iraq, in 2005.

“He was a cool kid,” Bons said. “He was a Marine, just like his dad. You know, he started wearing his dad's blues jacket when he was 2 years old and it was so big on him and he would fall down and get back up and I said it was just a sign of what was to come.”

“I'm sure that he would be proud, knowing that, you know, I'm helping his brothers and sisters because he truly was a patriot, and he truly was a lover of this country,” Bons said of MAM.

MAM provided the following information about Memorial Day language:

What to say on Memorial Day

  • "Honoring the fallen" — Acknowledging the purpose of Memorial Day in a way that shows reverence and gratitude.

  • "Remembering those who served" — Emphasizing the act of remembrance and recognition of service.

  • "In memory of our brave servicemen and women" — Specific and respectful mention of those who have passed.

  • "We owe a debt of gratitude" — Expressing thankfulness for the sacrifices made by military personnel.

  • "Reflecting on their sacrifice" — Encouraging thoughtful consideration of what Memorial Day represents.

What not to say on Memorial Day

  • "Happy Memorial Day" — This phrase can be seen as inappropriate because the day is meant to be a time of remembrance and mourning, not celebration.

  • "Enjoy your long weekend" — While the long weekend is appreciated, this phrase can come across as dismissive of the day's true meaning.

  • "Thank you for your service" — While this is appropriate for Veterans Day, Memorial Day specifically honors those who have died in service.

  • Commercialized statements like "Memorial Day sale!" — Using Memorial Day for commercial purposes can be viewed as disrespectful.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.