This is a 3 day holiday weekend in the U.S. so my blog entries about Japanese cooking will be sparse. Sparse—as in we ate packaged (almost instant) udon for lunch today. It was good and quick.
Below is a short summary of the history of Memorial Day in the U.S.:
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day—a day of remembrance for those who died in our Civil War. It was declared a holiday by a General of the North in 1868, after the Civil War. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Though there is evidence that several women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the war, The South for some years (even to this day?) refused to acknowledge the day, having a separate day to honor their dead. After World War I, the holiday changed from honoring just the soldiers who died in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. The article I have referenced also discusses the sale of “red poppies” to support widows and children after WWI. In 1971, the Congress passed the National Holiday Act to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, so now it is celebrated on the last Monday of May. Many Americans today have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, not just those fallen in service to our country.
When I was a child in the 50’s and 60’s, I remember my father dragging all 4 of us children and our mom to a graveyard in a very small town cemetery in the UP (that is the weird shaped part of Michigan north of the mitten shape you can see easily on maps) to tend his mother’s grave for the Memorial Day holiday. There was a huge overgrown lilac bush over the grave, and he wanted to plant flowers. We kids would wonder around looking at the lambs and angels on other graves, marveling at the birth/death dates on them. We carried water in buckets to the grave from a spigot to water the flowers my dad planted.
Mr. Tess and I bought tomato plants today, and a LOT of marigolds at the local farmers’ market. Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer: gardening, grilling, beaches, canoeing..
Summer—gotta love it!
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