Memorial Day signals the first official day of summer. For northerners, having endured a cold, snowy winter, it’s usually their first chance to visit a beach or enjoy a relaxing day by the pool. Those of us who live in Florida or in warmer climates enjoy the sand and the ocean year-round, but to people from cold climates, the first day of summer is a real reason to celebrate.
I remember every year at the beginning of that long, three-day Memorial Day weekend, my parents would load our station wagon with beach chairs, colorful umbrellas, a large picnic basket, piles of fluffy, over-sized towels, sand toys and enough food and snacks to feed an army. We would pile into the car and head to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, on our way to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where we would enjoy the sun and surf and world-famous Maryland crab cakes.
To others, the Memorial Day weekend was the beginning of the bar-b-que season and the men (not be a sexist, but it was always the men in our circle of friends and family) would begin their elaborate grilling routines. Some used charcoal briquettes in portable grills, while others had elaborate Weber Grills with attached gasoline canisters and actual burners. Those grills were as large and sophisticated as a regular stove. The hamburgers, sausages, hot dogs and steaks smelled heavenly as they were cooked (or burned) by this army of dedicated men intent on proving their culinary prowess.
To many, Memorial Day is a more sober occasion and is the time to remember and honor the men and women who have died in the armed forces in service to our county. The holiday originally was known as Decoration Day. It began after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead. It wasn’t until after World War II that the holiday gained a strong following. It wasn’t officially called Memorial Day until 1967. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Act which designated the last Monday in May as the official day to celebrate Memorial Day. (Source: an article in Time by Tessa Berenson published May 24, 2015 if you wish more information.)
Every year on this date, the President of The United States lays a ceremonial wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and the occasion is marked by a single bugler playing the haunting song “Taps”. I watch this on television, if I can, and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Memorial Day weekend has a special meaning of loss for me and our family, but more about that at another time.
I hope you all enjoy the holiday. Be safe and stay well.
Until my next inspiration…ciao.