Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

Mr. Whitlock, my 7th grade history teacher, taught many a lesson that is still fresh in my mind today, years and years later.

One of those lessons was that Memorial Day was a day of Remembrance: a day when the graves of those who died in war are adorned in honor of their sacrifices. Origination of the holiday is questionable, but much ado was made of the women who decorated the graves of their loved ones who died in the Civil War.

Decorating a grave in the South for whatever reason is a duty reserved for the family of the deceased. There exists a hierarchy for this duty that begins with the widow or widower, and passes to the surviving children in an specific order. Many a feud has resulted from the audacious impropriety of one foolish enough to interfere with this tradition.

I’ve been foolish in my lifetime, but never brazenly so. I would not dare to deliberately insult another by failing to comply with a time-honored tradition.

Some of my very fondest childhood memories are those of summer holidays, including Memorial Day, when all were summoned to gather at my grandparent's house for celebration.

Often, PaPa, as we youngsters dubbed my grandfather and the adult men of the family gathered around a hot grill, preparing steaks, hamburgers or hotdogs. Grandma and the adult women congregated in the kitchen, preparing all of the fixings. We little ones were directed to the doorstep and assigned the task of churning ice cream.

Way back then, ice cream makers required physical effort to power the crank that turned Grandma's custard-based concoctions (which sometimes included fresh fruit...I remember peaches being one of PaPa's favorite…then again, they could have been Grandma’s favorite) into a heavenly dessert.

As an adult I have chosen Memorial Day as a day to honor the memory of those who gave their lives in war by supporting those who follow in their footsteps. My conviction is such that I have attempted to instill it in the kid.

The kid and I were in the midst of imagining original, yet inexpensive contents for a care package befitting of Memorial Day to military members “somewhere over there” weeks ago when I told her the tale I just related.

She wondered why we couldn’t “just plug the ice cream maker in”, wrinkled her nose when I explained what custard was, and laughed when I told her of how we were tempted to taste rock salt because it looked so much like a candy we found in movie theaters. Yet even at her young age, she found significance in my memories and decreed an ice cream maker to be the perfect gift for the occasion.

Thanks to roll back prices we were able to procure a small electric ice cream maker,rock salt, and a mix that required only milk for our planned care package at extremely reasonable prices.

Today, we received confirmation that our packages arrived in a timely manner to a warm and friendly reception…

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“Today was a work day for us but we took a short time off to remember those who have died here…by conducting a short ceremony…

…One other thing we did was to take time to eat some homemade ice cream, thanks to you. That ice cream was a hit and everyone here said to say thank you…

…It all came out perfect. I mixed strawberry and chocolate together and everyone loved it. I had to borrow some ice from our dining facility and they wouldn't give me any unless I promised a couple of the cooks I would bring them some, and I did.

…I can't tell you how much that homemade ice cream meant to us. A couple of the guys talked about having homemade ice cream in their backyard if they were home with family today...

Thanks for bringing a little bit of home to us...

Happy Memorial Day


Anonymous Amy Proctor said...

Pam, I really appreciate your comments. The military needs people like you to support it. Let's face it, the military will exist out of necessity no matter what, but there is a movement growing to disrespect the military by those too cowardly to ever embark down that road of "duty, honor, country".

I too honor the Veterans on this day. Those who've fought in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars and so on are included. We owe them more than anyone can articulate.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Rene DLR said...

Miss Pam,
Again, you make your point so well. I thank you for all you do for us veterans. You have more courage and patriotism than most of the people I know - and I know a lot of patriots! We all thank you! I'm sure the ice cream was wonderful!!!

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pam - you are really something special that NEVER forgets anybody or anything - God bless you and the kid! San

2:14 PM  

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