The hows and whys of our national holidays have maybe never have been as important as they are now. We must remember the significant events of the past as our history is challenged and in some cases, erased or rewritten by scheming individuals and organizations. Our collective identity is built on a foundation of courage, sacrifice and honor. Memorial Day is the perfect time to remember who we are and were we came from.
Memorial Day began as a commemoration of the soldiers who fought and died in America’s Civil War. It was a terrifyingly brutal military engagement. Besides the fact that fathers were fighting their sons and brothers against brothers, the casualties were so great that the total of fallen soldiers in all of the others wars we have fought do not equal the number who died fighting in the Civil War, now thought to be close to 750,000.
Arlington National Cemetery has its roots firmly planted in the Civil War. When General Robert E. Lee was leading the Confederate forces, the Union generals began burying their dead in the kitchen garden of Lee’s family’s plantation. At the end of the war, the Union confiscated Lee’s plantation as war reparations and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery.
I’ve been teaching this week at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. My freshmen students have been creating “Letters to Your Senior Self,” a tradition at Highland. I was thinking about how my life changed during the next 3 years of high school. It occurred to me that when I was a freshman, some of the seniors graduating would be drafted and sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Nowadays, the seniors may be leaving for 2 years of church service, family vacations, their first jobs or time with a parent they see in the summer.
The poppy is a traditional symbol of Memorial Day. The story behind this icon can be found here. The poem “In Flanders Field” was originally penned about World War 1 but has become a Memorial Day classic too.
In Flanders Fields
BY JOHN MCCRAE
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Modern Memorial Day celebrations often feature the decorating of graves, both military and family, veteran speakers at special ceremonies and picnics and barbecues. We should take moment and teach our families about Memorial Day, the cost of freedom and pay our respects to those who have paid the price. When you add the facts that 750,000 lives were given to end slavery, it’s not hard to see that America is not a racist nation.
Here is a delicious dessert to share with your loved ones as we honor the heroes of our nation this Memorial Day.
My sister Cindy gave us a Cuisinart ice cream maker for Christmas a couple of years ago. We adapted this recipe using theirs for basic vanilla ice cream. Ours calls for freezing the container for 24 hours before using. Follow the preparation instructions for your ice cream maker.
Coconut Nut Ice Cream
In a large mixing bowl combine the following ingredients, refrigerate overnight:
1 C milk ( the recipe calls for whole but we have been happy using our 1%)
2/3 C granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 C heavy cream
1 TBSP coconut extract
The next day, place in the frozen Cuisinart ice cream maker bowl, attach paddle and turn on. After the ice cream mixture has processed about 20 minutes, add
1 C shredded sweetened coconut
1 C salted mixed nuts
Continue processing until mixture starts to harden. Place in freezer for a few minutes until it sets up. Makes 10 – 1/2 C servings.
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY AND THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE SERVED AND SACRIFICED.