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Memorial Day

Memorial Day

     Memorial Day weekend is special for many families. It marks the beginning of the summer season, well ahead of June 21. With a few extra days off, it is also a chance for families to travel or to invite friends and family over for a meal. The plans and festivities abound, but it’s important to remember that it’s also a solemn occasion. It commemorates lives lost on the battlefield and the sacrifices that the defense of freedom demands.

     The tradition of honoring fallen soldiers dates back 100s, even 1000s of years. In the United States, after the Civil War, a holiday called Decoration Day was celebrated on May 30 for nearly a century. Finally, in 1968 it was decided that this holiday would be celebrated on the last Monday in May, instead of whichever day May 30 fell on. Memorial Day as we know it did not become an official federal holiday until 1971.

     Despite the time honored traditions of flying the flag at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, and pausing for a collective moment of remembrance at 3:00 p.m., Americans also choose to celebrate Memorial Day with a shared meal and family time. What better way to honor the sacrifices of those lost in battle? By bringing together loved ones to spend time and enjoy a meal, the freedoms so dearly held are all the more appreciated.

     With (hopefully) sunny weather and mild temperatures, Memorial Day celebrations can be held outdoors with the grill as the star of the meal. With a menu of grilled favorites and refreshing salads, very little can go wrong. Along with burgers and steaks, add a selection of sausages on skewers, including chorizo for spice.  These proteins, surrounded by colorful vegetables, will entice even the pickiest eater at the picnic.

    Simple summer salads featuring corn, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and avocado, will contribute both color and taste. For a heartier side dish, try a new version of potato or macaroni salad, and even coleslaw. The options are endless, because even though the traditional recipes are timeless for a reason, who says you can’t put your own spin on them? There are so many cheeses and spices and oils that will elevate these summer classics, why not take a chance with them this year?

     For dessert, ambrosia provides sinful sweetness with healthy fruit. It’s a salad that isn’t made nearly enough for get-togethers. And of course it isn’t summer without tarts and cobblers. Anything served with ice cream, including just ice cream, is a holiday winner. From pavlova to pie to crumble, a BBQ deserves an unforgettable dessert.

    This Memorial Day, join together with friends and family and enjoy the precious time you have with those most important to you. Honor the memory of heroes who came before and celebrate life, freedom, and prosperity. There is no better way than to fire up the grill, sip on a cool drink, and cook delicious food to share with as many as possible. Don’t take this holiday, or any opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones, for granted.