I find "Happy Memorial Day" an inappropriate greeting for a day of remembrance and memory.
Are there any better alternatives I can use in for a formal email?
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
I might be able to give you a better answer if I knew who the recipient of this email was, but I was told by a veteran that he'd rather hear "How is your Memorial Day?", "How is your Memorial Day going?", "Are you having a good day today?" or simply "Hello" as he also doesn't find anything happy about remembering his fallen comrades.
I just wrote an email this evening which was a formal response to a college administrator, and here's how I solved this dilemma:
I hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend.
"Good" can be defined by the reader for him or herself.
"Weekend" could be omitted.
If you're at the beginning, or in the middle, of the long weekend, you could say
I hope you have a good Memorial Day weekend.
Posting this as a civilian....
With Memorial Day being a time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, 'Thank you for your service' seems the most appropriate greeting on Memorial or Veterans Day, and only to members of the military.
Apart from that, expressions of compassion as mentioned in earlier posts, which show that you care even if you can never fully understand what veterans have experienced and continue to relive.