"I guess I just ignore Memorial Day," said Jim Casazza, a tourist here from Danbury, Conn., as he stood behind the White House waiting to walk over to the Washington Monument.

"It's a terrible thing to say, I guess," he said looking over at a friend, "but for me it's three days off... to go to parades, maybe swimming if the water is warm enough. We had the time off and we'd been wanting to come to Washington but we sure didn't come because it's Memorial Day."

On the Mall yesterday tourists from around the country called Memorial Day 1978 a good time to start the summer season to go to the beach, or take a long weekend trip to Washington.

"Memorial Day, it's just a convenience." said Ellie Griffin of Boston. "If it wasn't for Memorial Day I wouldn't have been able to come to Washington for the weekend. I don't celebrate Memorial Day. Probably some older people do but not young people."

James Arrington, 28, of Wilmington. Del., said the only war veterans he knew were friends who fought in Vietnam.

"Look," he said, "they want to forget it as much as anyone else. You just don't see people doing all that flag-waving they used to do. A couple of my high school buddies died over there and that's sad but what's the use thinking about it on Memorial Day or any other time."

Several elderly persons, some holding grandchildren by the hand, said they sometimes visit the graves of friends and relatives around this time.

"I try to go up to the graveyard and see my mother and father this time of year," said Carl Farah. of Chester, Pa., as he sat drinking a soda with his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. "You know I'm not much of one for graveyards but this time of the year Memorial Day. Why I'll get the kids to go up there with me and put a flag on the grave."

Farah's son, Fred, said, "It doesn't make a whole lot sense to be thinking of wars and killing when the weather is getting warm and you can get some time off. When you think about it, though, thank Godwe had the men to fight for the country. But they didn't do all that for us to sit around and mourn."

Joe Amoto, 14, of Chardon, Ohio, who was visiting Washington with his three sisters and his oldest sister's husband, said he knew about the world wars but he thinks of Memorial Day as a time for fun.

"School is going to be over soon when it's Memorial Day, you know that," he said. "But Memorial Day for thinking about what happened in the war... Memorial Day as a time for fun.

"School is going to be over soon when it's Memorial Day, you know that," he said. "But Memorial Day for thinking about what happened in the war... Memorial Day really doesn't mean that much."

Celia Beam, 19, who was taking pictures of the White House with a line of other tourists from Kansas City, MO., said she always felt that Memorial Day was a holiday for someone else.

"It's just a day off for me," she said. "But I always figured that the parades and the day off meant that for someone somewhere it was a special day. But it's not anything special for me and I've never met anyone who made a big day of it."

Carla Fowler, also with the Kansas City tour group, said her father fought in the Korean War but that he doesn't get excited about Mimorial Day.

"He (her father) had friends who died in the war, I think"she said. "But he doesn't talk about it all the time. Idon't think Memorial Day means a lot to him. He never said anything to me about it being special for him and he hasn't done anything to make it special for the family."

At the 1st infantry Division Memorial behind the Old Executive Office Building, a young woman from Switzerland who is living in Baltimore while her husband works at Johns Hopkins Hospital said she does not understand what Memorial Day means to Americans.

"You get three days off," she said, "but what do Americans do on Memorial Day? It seems like a good time to have a day off because the summer is starting but I baven't heard anyone say what Memorial Day is supposed to mean."