My daughter asked yesterday what Memorial Day really celebrates. I was embarrassed that I couldn't say for certain. I didn't come from a military family, wasn't exposed to anyone in the military and never truly understood the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I was mortified.
I am certain that most of you already know all of this, but if not, here goes - Memorial Day is a day for remembering the people who died while serving in our country's armed forces and Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S military veterans. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. In 1868 an organization of Union veterans established that day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead. By the 20th century, competing (go figure) Union and Confederate holiday traditions, each celebrated on different days and in different ways, merged, and Memorial Day extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service, not just the Union veterans.
You can find many decoration events held the days leading up to Memorial Day. People are encouraged to visit local cemeteries and decorate the graves of veterans with American flags. I am sad to arrive at this information late in my life, but I plan to take full advantage of these events in the years to come.
For some lucky reason, I have our family flag. The same flag that proudly flew at our home in Lake Oswego on every federal holiday. My dad made sure it was out on Flag Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc. It's faded and a little worn, but not tattered or worn through. It is proudly flying as I write.
Because Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May, it typically represents the start of the summer season. And given that it is a Federal holiday and most have the day off, it's the perfect reason to BBQ with family and friends. It seems, given the reason for this holiday, that keeping the menu simple would be appropriate - allowing time to enjoy one another, and to reflect on the sacrifices others have made so we may enjoy this time with our family.
Here's our menu this year - hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, cole slaw and coca-cola. I don't think it gets any easier, or more American, than this!
Of course, if you want to get fancy, there are so many wonderful and really creative ideas on Pinterest. Incorporating the flag into the menu and decor makes more sense now that I understand the tradition of decorating the veterans graves with flags. Here are some of the cutest last minute ideas I could find.
|super easy - cool whip, fresh blueberries and strawberries in a glass|
|Strawberry Shortcake with fresh cream and strawberries in a Mason Jar|
|Super easy patriotic fruit skewers - drizzle with honey and lime zest dressing - yum!|
|Dip strawberries in white chocolate and blue sugar (regular sugar died with blue food coloring works)|
|looks like fresh berries and yogurt covered pretzels.....such an easy appetizer!|
|I love a good trifle, the key is having the lady fingers on hand!|
Here are some free patriotic downloadable prints - click on this link for these and more cute ones!
Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday and a big, enormous, heartfelt salute to those who died while serving our country.
Until next time,
la chasse au bonheur