Immediately following Easter and Mother’s Day is the next holiday on almost everyone’s calendar. Memorial Day is not just a day that we can get away from work; it’s a day for celebrating with family and friends. It’s also a day set aside for remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the life that we enjoy and can sometimes take for granted.
A Short History of Memorial Day
Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday was first celebrated in 1868. It was intended as a national day of mourning for those who died in the line of duty in our military. We traditionally celebrated this day on May 30th from 1868 to 1970. In 1971 we changed it to occur on the last Monday in May. The holiday was first referred to as Memorial Day in 1890 and became better known after World War II.
Today Memorial Day is celebrated as the first three-day weekend of summer. However, many within the military, particularly the Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW, believe that making Memorial Day a part of a three-day weekend undermines the actual meaning and significance of the holiday.
In 2000 Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking citizens to stop for a moment at 3:00 p.m. and remember those who gave their lives in sacrifice for our country.
The National Memorial Day concert takes place on the West Lawn of our nation’s Capitol each Memorial Day and gets broadcast on public television (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR).
Celebrating Memorial Day Today
There’s nothing wrong with looking forward to having a three-day weekend to spend time at home relaxing and spending time with friends and family. However, if you also want to honor our fallen heroes, you can also:
- Attend a Memorial Day parade
- Place flags on the graves of fallen veterans
- Attend a VFW event in your community
- Pause for the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. and remember those who gave their lives to protect us.
- Attend a local Memorial Day concert or tune into the National Concert on PBS or NPR.
Memorial Day Party Ideas
To set off the patriotic mood, decorate your home and spice up table settings with lots of red, white, and blue to mark the unofficial beginning of summer. Below are some great, traditional recipes that go above and beyond the usual backyard fare for you to experience this Memorial Day.
Spicy Grilled Chicken
If you want to get beyond burgers and steak or have another meaty taste option, this recipe features a savory and spicy punch you’re sure to love.
Prepare a marinade to be used overnight on the chicken thighs, breasts, wings or drumsticks using:
¼ cup of Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of Honey
1 Tablespoon of Minced Ginger
½ teaspoon of Salt
½ teaspoon of Black Pepper
Put in a plastic bag and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Once your barbeque grill is prepared and up to temperature, place the chicken on the grill. You can brush your favorite barbeque sauce or prepare the following barbeque sauce instead.
½ Cup of Ketchup
2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
½ Cup Tightly Packed Brown Sugar
¼ teaspoon Onion Powder
¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 ½ teaspoon of Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon of Minced Ginger (optional)
Combine the ingredients together over medium heat until the sauce starts to bubble. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store any leftovers in a Mason or other airtight jar.
Classic Potato Salad
3 pounds of washed, peeled, and cubed Russet Potatoes
½ cup of Vidalia or Yellow Onion
4 Hard-Boiled Eggs
1 cup of mayonnaise
½ cup Yellow Mustard
½ cup of chopped Dill Pickles
2 ½ teaspoons Salt
A dash of Regular or Smoked Paprika
To prepare, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 ½ teaspoons of salt. Reduce the heat to medium high and let simmer for 10 minutes. Potatoes are done when they are easy to mash with a fork. Drain the potatoes, then put them back into the pan and mash three or four times with a potato masher. Leave the potatoes chunky.
Chop the hard-boiled egg, onion, and the pickle, then add the mayonnaise and mustard. Fold in the potatoes, mix well, chill and serve.
Perfect Summer Sun Tea
Iced tea is probably the most popular summertime drink. We would be remiss if we didn’t offer our take on this seasonal favorite.
For this, we recommend Sir Jason Winters Pre-Brewed Tea Original Formula.
Measure ½ teaspoon for each desired serving and place in a tea ball.
Place filtered water into a gallon glass jar, add the tea ball with the tea inside, and sit in full sun.
When your tea is the desired color, remove the tea ball and serve over ice. You may wish to add lemon, stevia, or your favorite natural sweetener to taste.
No Bake Red White & Blue Cheesecake
Here is a no bake, ultimately no hassle dessert treat that you and your Memorial Day guests will love. What’s more, it is light enough for warm weather and super simple to prepare.
For the Crust
12 Graham Crackers, crushed
6 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
¼ Cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
A pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Combine the ingredients and press gently into a pie plate or tart pan. Refrigerate crust.
For the Filling
1 Cup of Heavy Cream
1 Cup of Powdered or Confectioners Sugar
Two 8-ounce packages of Cream Cheese
Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature. Combine the heavy cream and sugar with a mixer until stiff peaks begin to form. Add cream cheese and mix until smooth.
Next, zest a bit of the lemon rind into the filling, then juice the entire lemon and mix into the cheese. Slowly add in the cream and sugar mixture until fully combined.
Place the filling into the graham cracker crust and chill for 2 – 4 hours.
Hull and slice approximately 1 pound of fresh strawberries and arrange them around the outer circumference of the cheesecake. Fill the rest of the cheesecake center with about 1 pound of fresh blueberries. You will probably have some blueberries left over to serve on the side. Chill until you’re ready to serve and enjoy!
Whatever your reasons for celebrating Memorial Day are, we hope that it’s an enjoyable and meaningful holiday for you this year. Try out some of these activities and recipes and make your own Memorial Day traditions!