Memorial Day weekend

Wasn’t Mother’s Day a beautiful weekend? The day dawned bright and clear and stayed that way. After I went to early Mass, I took off for a quick trip to the Devine area to help celebrate the 2nd birthday of a precious little great-granddaughter! After a relaxing Friday afternoon and a Saturday, spent resting, I felt well enough to make the drive. To say that I surprised my family would be an understatement! It was a short trip, but a very pleasant one and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. The company and food were all great and since Monday when I got home, I’ve had a really quiet week for a change.
Monday, May 28th, is the day we will celebrate Memorial Day, our first long weekend of the summer. What does it mean to you? Do you celebrate it, or is it just a neat day to have off work for a long weekend? Do you fly the flag? It is mainly a day of remembrance, of all the veterans of all the wars and is one of the holidays that are celebrated on the last Monday of the month that it is in.
This past weekend, in my area there is a field of honor in Victoria that honors Wounded Warriors. The field has over 2,000 flags that have been donated in memory of different military persons. The Wounded Warriors are brought in from many different places, and there are celebrations along the way honoring them. In Port O’Connor, groups have made sand decorations in their honor, and many boats are available for fishing. The papers in this area all have stories about this weekend.
In most of the surrounding towns, a group of men from American Legion and/or VFW place flags along the roads coming into each town, north, south, east and west and it is truly an awesome sight to see the flags as you approach the town.
Memorial Day was formerly called Decoration Day and was celebrated on May 30th. General John A. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic originated this day to honor the war dead.
It is a legal holiday in almost all the fifty states. In some places, the observance consists of civic parades and the placing of flowers on veteran’s graves. In San Antonio, there is usually a special service at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. This very impressive ceremony, with taps and a 21-gun salute, always reduces even the strongest to tears as they realize that these men and women who are buried here gave their all for their country.
There are services in foreign cemeteries honoring the graves of American servicemen who are buried on foreign soil. There are water services for those who died at sea, and there are ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It has been the custom to fly the flag at half-mast until noon in the United States.
The verse that follows this article is one of the best known and is written about the Buddy Poppy. Everyone is familiar with this little red flower that is offered for a donation either at Memorial Day or in time for Veteran’s Day in November. John McCrae (1872-1918) is the author of this famous poem. He is remembered for what is probably the single best-known and popular poem from WWI. He was a Canadian physician and fought on the Western Front in 1914, but was then transferred to the medical corps and assigned to a hospital in France. He died of pneumonia while on active duty in 1918. His volume of poetry, “In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, was published in 1919. It is said that John McCrae was standing in the cemetery and saw the beautiful red poppies growing over the area, that he was so impressed and moved that he wrote the poem.
With graduation exercises at various schools taking place this week and next, as well as it being Memorial Day weekend, our minds turn to thoughts of outdoor cooking and picnics.
Whatever you do for the weekend, if you take food, be sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. This is so very important to avoid any type of food poisoning.
It is a very good idea to use a separate ice chest for sodas and other drinks, rather than the one you have for cold food. This will help keep the food colder, as it won’t be opened as frequently as the drinks cooler. Hot food will also keep well in your regular cooler, line the bottom with a towel or newspaper if you are putting something from the oven or a hot pot in it so you don’t ruin the lining. The following three recipes all travel beautifully and are very tasty. The potato salad recipe is one that Mother used back when potato salad was served at our church in San Antonio, so has been around a very long time and is very good!
Layered Spinach Salad
1 package fresh spinach
1 small head lettuce
8 green onions
8 slices, cooked, crumbled bacon
8 hard cooked eggs, sliced (optional)
1 box, (10-oz) frozen peas, (no need to cook)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise (do not substitute)
1 cup sour cream
2 to 3 Tbs. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
Wash spinach and lettuce; drain well, tear into bite sized pieces. Place spinach into large bowl; top with lettuce, then with sliced green onions and peas. Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream and dressing mix and spread over top of salad all the way to the edges of the bowl. Just before serving, top with crumbled bacon and shredded Parmesan cheese.
Potato Salad (for a crowd)
20 to 25 pounds potatoes
1 tablespoon salt
1 dozen hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped*
1 large onion, finely chopped (optional)
2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 pint pickle relish (sweet, dill or the newer sweet/dill)
1 large jar pimentos
2 quarts mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped parsley
Wash potatoes thoroughly, (do not peel), place in large pot, cover with water, add salt and cook until done. Drain well; allow to cool enough to handle them and then peel and dice into a large bowl. Refrigerate overnight if desired. Cook and chop eggs and refrigerate overnight. Next morning, mix eggs, onion (if used), celery pickle relish, pimentos and parsley; pour over potatoes and stir together; add salad dressing and stir to combine ingredients. Garnish with additional parsley if desired. *Many folks believe that the addition of eggs cause the potato salad to spoil more quickly, however, this is your choice, if you don’t want to use them or don’t usually use them, leave them out. This recipe can be easily halved if you don’t want to make this much!
Oatmeal Cake\with topping
1½ boiling water
1 cup oatmeal
Pour boiling water over oatmeal and set aside for 20 minutes to cool.
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350º; lightly grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.
Cream together sugars, shortening and eggs until fluffy, beat in oatmeal and salt until well combined; stir in flour cinnamon and baking soda and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake until done, testing with a toothpick or cake tester that comes out fairly clean.
1 stick butter or margarine
1½ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup coconut
½ condensed milk
Melt butter or margarine, stir in sugar, vanilla, coconut and condensed milk until well combined; pour over cake and place under broiler for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae (1872-1918)
In Flanders fields the
Poppies blow
Between the cross, 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.