Today is Memorial Day, and companies across the county have taken time to honor the servicemen and servicewomen who have sacrificed all for our freedom. For instance, at some Chick-fil-A locations (probably most, if not all), there is a Missing Man table complete with Bible, flag, and empty place setting arrayed to honor those who never returned home from the battlefield. I happened across one today. It’s a beautiful tribute.
On the other hand, there is Google, that omnipresent and overwhelmingly successful American tech company. If you’re familiar with Google and use it for online searching, you’ve undoubtedly come across what is known as the “Google doodle”. The doodle is clickable artwork that incorporates the word “Google” in some clever way to honor birthdays of famous people, holidays, inventions, etc. Once you click on the artwork, you’re taken to a search for that particular topic. Doodles are fun, sometimes interactive bridges to information. Here is Google’s own definition:
Doodles are the fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.
Over time, the demand for doodles has risen in the U.S. and internationally. Creating doodles is now the responsibility of a team of talented illustrators (we call them doodlers) and engineers.
A group of Googlers get together regularly to brainstorm and decide which events will be celebrated with a doodle. The doodle selection process aims to celebrate interesting events and anniversaries that reflect Google’s personality and love for innovation.
A quick search of the Google Doodle Archive shows the kinds of people, holidays, and events they choose to remember. Among the recent doodles are Nepal Republic Day, Norway National Day, Sigmund Freud’s 160th Birthday, Earth Day 2016, Perú Elections 2016, and 121st Anniversary of the first published timetable in Japan. Naturally, you might guess the U.S. federal holiday of Memorial Day would receive proportional treatment. You’d be wrong. This is Google’s homepage today:
The extent of their “honoring” the fallen soldiers of the United States Armed Forces is a teeny tiny American flag and yellow ribbon underneath the search bar. It isn’t even clickable. You won’t be taken to a wealth of information about the holiday, its origins, or scheduled events across the country. Instead, you have an isolated afterthought. I mean, could they make it any tinier?
In direct contrast to Google is the search engine Bing, which took a decidedly different approach to the holiday. This is Bing’s homepage today:
Ahem. Now that’s perfect.
I understand Google makes its own decisions. I am well aware that millions nationwide take time on Memorial Day to honor the fallen, and Google’s decision to do next to nothing will not affect their remembrances. But it speaks volumes when the same company that goes to considerable lengths to create a doodle celebrating the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man cannot even properly honor those who fought and died for their freedom.
This isn’t some obscure artist’s birthday nor the anniversary of an invention; it’s the day set aside to appreciate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.