NEW YORK – On Memorial Day many people take time to honor those who served the country, but this year Sept. 11 and the ongoing war will cast a brighter spotlight on this and other patriotic holidays.
And the greeting card industry has rolled out red, white and blue cards like never before to acknowledge the sacrifices people have made and to communicate the pain of those who lost loved ones.
"People now want to more openly acknowledge and express appreciation for freedom, those who have defended it and died for it," said Laurie Henrichsen, spokesperson for American Greetings. "These were things that were always acknowledged and understood before, but perhaps not as openly observed or celebrated."
While Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veteran's Day are not typically times when people buy cards, this year companies predict dramatically higher sales as people long to communicate with friends and family.
"We're anticipating that due to Sept. 11 people are wanting cards to help communicate about their feelings of patriotism, loss and feelings of what was," Rachel Bolton, spokesperson for Hallmark said.
Hallmark card sales have been strong since Sept. 11 — some 6.4 million patriotic cards have been sold — which Bolton said, "Reflects that there is a need to let someone know today, how we feel because we've been forced to see that things can change very quickly."
And Sept. 11 is now a holiday in its on right, Patriot Day, which already has it's own greeting cards in production.
One such card from Hallmark shows a flag at half-mast with "Their Spirit Lives On" on the cover. The inside message reads: "We always will remember those who gave their lives ... For some it was their duty, for others, just their fate, but time and time again we saw what makes this country great. Strangers helping strangers, courage over fear, sacrifice and loyalty to values we hold dear. Remember them with honor, for though they may be gone, the spirit of America — their spirit will live on."
But not all the cards are so reverent and serious.
Hallmark has infused some humor into patriotic holidays with two cards from their Shoebox line. One features a woman donned in an American flag shirt and the message "Sometimes it's Okay to Wear Horizontal Stripes!" Another shows a stadium emptying out after the announcer asks the owner of a car with an American flag to move their vehicle.
For those who prefer to express themselves without words, 1-800-Flowers offers patriotic bouquets and baskets.
Ken Young, director of communications for the company said they've received more requests for patriotic arrangements post-Sept. 11, resulting in the American Spirit collection of flowers and gift items.
"Red, white and blue is the traditional theme of the summer. And in light of Sept. 11 this traditional theme has intensified this year," he said. "Overall product assortment for patriotic/memorial themes has increased and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future."
While the daily patriotic fervor that emboldened the country immediately following the attacks has calmed, the memories have not faded and the well-wishes for those serving the country are still being sent.
"We anticipate the cards will do quite well because they're addressing a need to communicate appreciation for our way of life and those who have defended it," said Henrichsen.
"People will very much want to express their appreciation and love of country on meaningful patriotic holidays."