Decorating the Day

As a child, we always went to the cemetery on Memorial Day. I grew up in a community where my parents had also grown up so we had a history there. None of the neighbors or relatives who’d passed were lost in battle and few were in the military but we went, regardless. We cleaned up the grave sites and placed peonies grown in my grandmother’s yard.

Photo courtesy of Photographer, Poet and Teacher MagicalMysteryTeacher.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy of Photographer, Poet and Teacher MagicalMysteryTeacher.wordpress.com

My grandmother always called it Decoration Day and in fact, that was what it was called up until 1868 when it became an holiday. Memorial Day is officially a day to honor those who have died in our nation’s service. There is evidence of decorating the graves long before it was proclaimed however. A hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella Sweet was dedicated “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead”. 

Drive through any small town where people have roots and histories and you will see the lines of cars today. Some take fresh flowers and others adorn the headstones with silk flowers that they’ll come back to collect over the next week so they can reuse them next year. This, like President’s Day, is celebrated on a Monday – the last Monday in May so that workers can take full advantage of a 3-day weekend.

I love 3-day weekends but admittedly, it contributes to a diluted sense of meaning. We slept in, took an amazing hike, made delicious green smoothies and watermelon slushies and then we went to see The Sapphires – a true story which took place during the Viet Nam war, and are contemplating our evening meal.

In writing this, I have uncovered a movement started by the late Senator Daniel Inouye to change the day back to May 30th. The reason is to restore the traditional date of observance that it was and should be. I’m thankful for that reminder. During this weekend, I’m also reminded that we would’ve been pulling the first yellow squash of the season and eating them battered and fried. These days I’ve lightened up.

IMG_1024Yellow Squash Gazpacho

Adapted from Desert Roots Farm
Serves 5
Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs yellow squash, seeded and cut in 1/2 inch segments (I didn’t seed the small ones)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a heavy soup kettle)
  • rice vinegar
  • black pepper
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • chopped celery, tomatoes, carrots for garnish

Heat large soup pot over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and heat until fragrant. Add garlic, squash, and salt. Wait until the pot begins to sizzle and then reduce to low heat and cover. IMG_1021 IMG_1022 IMG_1023Leave it for at least 45 minutes until the squash is cooked through. Turn off the heat and let the squash rest for 15 minutes. Then, using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the squash until creamy. Place in a pitcher and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, add the oil, vinegar, black pepper (the original recipe calls for white if you prefer), and lemon juice. Stir to mix and serve topped with diced vegetables.

IMG_1026I’m serving this in ramekins for the kids as this may be a bit challenging for them. There’s always more if they love it.

Next Post
Leave a comment

60 Comments

  1. I also grew up where there was a lot of family history and tradition. Nearly all of the males in my family were in the military. My brother was wounded on Iwo Jima and my brother-in law was on the Yorktown when it went down. The women knew the heartache and worry about their men being in harm’s way.

    Reply
    • It gave the holiday a real sense of meaning. For those of us who care, I think there need to be some other ways to instill what the day is about. My kids have probably never even been to a cemetery.

      Reply
  2. I love squash. I love it in curry, I love it in salad, we cook it with poppy seeds and diced potatoes and they taste great. Need to try this out!

    Reply
    • it’s so easy and believe it or not, everyone loved it. It would be good with some curry also.

      Reply
  3. ummm…where did the other comment go? :( I said I love squash and we cook it with potatoes and poppy seeds. If you do happen to find that comment, kindly delete this.
    Need to try this :) We get squash only when its winter!

    Reply
  4. This sounds like a wonderful gazpacho, and one I’ll try when I have summer squash from the garden. Lovely post…thank you, Tammy!

    Reply
    • It is so easy too Cindy. I love things that I can whip together and then forget about.

      Reply
  5. Your yellow squash gazpacho looks beautiful!

    Reply
    • It went over very well – all 3 kids liked it. The vinegar and lemon finishing really make it pop.

      Reply
  6. Glad that all enjoyed the Squash Gazpacho.

    I’m on the fence about moving Memorial Day to the 30th. I expect that those who want to honor the dead do so over the 3-day weekend. And that those who don’t, won’t, no matter what day of the week Memorial Day falls on. If families spend the day together, it’s all good.

    Reply
    • I guess I’m just a bit melancholy when we lose a tradition – clearly lost amongst my boys.

      Reply
  7. I always learn something from your posts! Love the yellow squash gazpacho – it’s so colorful, a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. :)

    Reply
  8. Sally

     /  May 28, 2013

    Beautiful reminder and lovely looking meal! I spread roses on the water each year for my loved ones, with special thanks for the lives they lived. Your history lessons are always so wonderful. What a lovely day you shared with your family!

    Reply
  9. Thanks for the history lesson. I knew that there was a date for Memorial Day at one time, but had forgotten which date. I also like the words Decoration Day, seems more fitting, I will have to remember that concept the next time I fitz about it. Perhaps I would enjoy it more if I remembered its really meaning rather than the one it has become in my hometown.

    Reply
  10. My family observed Memorial day the same way when I was young! The Gazpacho looks wonderful!

    Reply
  11. I am 4th generation in the same spot…lots of history in our cemeteries for me. I take my children every year and now my grandchildren…it is something that I find important to do.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

    Reply
  12. My hometown has that same kind of history. I moved away, so I likely will have a different resting place, and that feels a little sad to me. I even had a summer job there that included mowing the cemetery. I took it very seriously and was careful to replace the decorations nicely and assure there were no grass clippings on the stones, etc.

    Reply
  13. That is one beautiful tradition. Remembering our family, friends and the heroes who died to defend our country is truly noble and inspiring. So much is going on in our world that people forget what this day really means.

    Reply
    • We do forget. It’s nice to remember. In many small towns now, they do the high school reunions on this weekend. That’s a nice idea if you’re more likely to remember in a setting where you grew up.

      Reply
  14. Michelle Tuton

     /  May 28, 2013

    This touches my heart. Thank you!

    Michelle Tuton

    Reply
    • Thanks Michelle and thanks for reading! I removed your phone number from the comment – not sure if you intended to leave it. See you on words!

      Reply
  15. What a great tradition Tammy! Is the squash from your garden? It’s beautiful! I must admit, never had squash cooked this way; it looks yummy!

    Reply
    • No, this is squash from Desert Roots Farm – our CSA. I love that the recipe uses so much and it’s very good.

      Reply
  16. That’s a lovely holiday and it’s so important to pay respect and stop to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We have something similar called ANZAC Day. xx

    Reply
  17. I love the gazpacho recipe. I never would have come up with this, so thank you. Love my squash! :-) I wish everyone took the time to honor the meaning of Memorial Day. I don’t think returning it to the 30th would actually accomplish that. People seem to either “get it” or they don’t. Even in the busyness of the busy Los Angeles area there were many meaningful ways to observe the day. I was so glad to see that. Lovely post!

    Reply
    • I think you’re right about moving to the 30th. I hope you will try the squash this way.

      Reply
  18. Lisa H

     /  May 29, 2013

    It has been along time since I heard “Decoration Day.” Our family never celebrated Memorial Day with the tradition of going to the cemetery; my grandfather was MIA presumed dead and “buried” overseas during WWII. The remaining families were buried in Minnesota and Virginia (we lived in CA). I think it’s wonderful you had a tradition to celebrate the day and the people who helped make America such a wonderful place to live.

    Reply
    • I’ll bet there were some pretty strong decoration traditions where your grandparents were from, Lisa.

      Reply
  19. Happy belated Memorial Day!

    Reply
  20. Surreal that I’m reading this now, as my father is taking to a cremating sales representative in the living room.

    This year I’ve been learning a lot more about the ‘real’ history of Memorial Day. Holidays have such a traditional air about them, it’s hard to remember that traditions, like everything, changes.

    Reply
    • They do change but it saddens me when they are forgotten as I believe that makes them sort of extinct. Tradition and the stories that develop from them are what makes us human – even if it does change.

      Reply
  21. Tammy I’d eat this soup! Using the immersion blender would help my kids with it, so definitely something to think about when summer squash season comes around.
    I did not grow up with the decoration day tradition, since we grew up far away from my parents’ home communities, but my spouse’s family does this. It’s a lovely tradition.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • I was a bit nervous about how the soup would be received and didn’t need to be. I have another recipe that is similar for zucchini except that you also but in bacon. That makes it easier for my husband and kids to eat anything.

      Reply
  22. Gorgeous colors!

    Thanks for sharing and linking up :)

    Reply
    • It is really festive and any sort of spice could give this an ethnic twist; cumin, mustard seed, oregano, etc.

      Reply
  23. When shooting photos from churches, I always visit on our cemeteries where are war memorials. I spend a silent moment thinking how many small villages there were after war having only nearly young children and old men. Women had to do same work than their decedent husbands and also their own work. War widows and orphans are the forgotten part of the people.

    Reply
    • That’s a really good point and something that I hadn’t thought about. You’re right about it being a forgotten part since the focus is on the fallen hero.

      Reply
  24. My mother’s retirement community displayed photos from the local honors flight for the Memorial Day time frame–moving shots and a very timely tribute. The color on your raw gazpacho are gorgeous!

    Reply
    • Yes, that doesn’t surprise me that it was honored in a retirement community.

      Reply
  25. Glad you had a great long weekend, Tammy, and and I am full of admiration at your self control in not battering and frying the squash. I would have been severely tempted. Your alternative looks so colourful!

    Reply
    • Oh, I love it battered and fried Kate but this soup is light and lovely. I make gazpacho rarely so wasn’t sure how the notion of cold soup would go over. It was a hit!

      Reply
  26. I love your stories and food and family history! This soup look out if sight.

    Reply
  27. I think it’s so important to honor the dead soldiers on Memorial Day. I too heard it called “Decoration Day” growing up. My dad (who died in January) was very proud of his WWII service and we made sure it was prominently mentioned in his obituary. Thanks for remembering!

    Reply
    • Not too many seem to remember it as Decoration Day! Thanks for the comment Diane.

      Reply
  28. Linda

     /  June 4, 2013

    I passed an old 19th century cemetery on my trip down Route 66 last week. Most of the graves had broken headstones and the fences had fallen. There was one fence still very much in tact, however, and it surrounded the graves of some Civil War heroes. They even had fresh flags on their graves. It was so neat to see that even these long-lost heroes’ graves- out in the middle of nowhere- had not been forgotten.

    Reply
  29. Something like Memorial Day is a very foreign concept for me. Being born and living in Germany, these are very unsafe waters. (Most) Germans aren’t at all proud of their history, nor are they about their country.

    Reply
    • Wow, that’s a different perspective. I hadn’t thought about it Kath. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
      • This is one thing I love about blogging: that it gives you inside into how people live in different countries. So fascinating! :)

        Reply
  1. What’s in the Box? #74 | In Her Chucks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: