Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Musings II

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to all our brave men and women who serve in the United State Military.

“Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”--Pericles (c.600 B.C.E.)

You are not forgotten.

"In Flanders Fields"
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, 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.

Memorial Day is here. I have been thinking about what it means to me. I have been remembering those who have fallen, those who are currently serving both over seas and at home, those families who have loved ones in form of sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives serving active duty, national guard, reserve, or are on inactive ready reserve. But then I got to wondering about others so what does it mean to you?

Is it the start of summer? A three day weekend to be enjoyed through various outdoor activities like camping, fishing, going to the park? Is it a day or days of watching NASCAR? Is it a day to be cozily snuggled on the couch with drinks and snacks watching the Indy 500? Is it a time of being with friends and family at a picnic or BBQ either at a park, beach or in the back yard?

Is it a day to visit the cemetery in order to pay respect to the dearly departed? Either by laying flowers, wreaths, or placing flags on their graves? Or maybe do a little care taking maintenance of the plot? Do you participate in the 3 p.m. moment of silence or are you not aware or unsure of what this is?

Do you watch the televised coverage of scenes from Arlington Cemetery? Or do you participate in your own local community cemetery tribute to the soldiers who have died? Do you take the time to visit with a veteran on this day or sometime during the weekend? Do you ignore the members of the VFW with their "Buddy Poppy"? Do you accept one and offer a donation? Or are you embarrassed that you were approached or spoken to while others were able to pass on by? Do you stop to say thank you to the veteran and soldiers that you see through out your day to day activities on this day, this weekend, or at any other time of the year? Just what does this sacred solemn day really mean to you?

Today or at some point this weekend you will either be offered the opportunity to or participate in some type of outdoor activity or get together. Maybe it is the start of your summer holiday so you hold a backyard BBQ get together. Maybe it's time for an annual family reunion or get together at a local park or other outdoor location. While your enjoying your food, time with friends and family, and fun; do you give thought to how wonderful and lucky you are to be able to do it? Does how wonderful being free to do your activities and get together cross your mind at all? Do you give pause and thanks in acknowledgment for the freedom to pursue happiness and joy by doing what you do? Do you take time to remember and thank those who died to preserve our rights?

So do you take time somewhere in your busy weekend to reflect and feel thankful for the freedom to have this holiday weekend? Do you reflect and feel thankful for the countless other freedoms that you enjoy daily? Freedoms that are so precious and unique to us here in the United States of America. Do you remember those who died or lost a part of themselves (physically, mentally, emotionally or a combo of all these) so that you can enjoy the freedoms your currently enjoying?

I was actually shocked to hear that Memorial Day means nothing more to some of my friends than the start of the summer fun activities and getting to taste auntie's (or other family members or friends members or friends) potato salad or other favorite food that is associated with summer time. They sadly don't feel that there is a reason to remember a bunch of faceless and nameless soldiers who died in some cases a very long time ago. To another set it is the signal that the school year is over or about to end shortly and that fun can commence.

So let me ask you again what does Memorial Day mean to you? What does Memorial Day really mean? Why do we have it and do you know? With the above questions swirling through your mind let me share some tidbits of information about Memorial Day that I have found.

Memorial Day, originally was called Decoration Day. It is a day set aside for the remembrance of those brave men and women who have died in our nation's service preserving our freedoms.

Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868.

It is a patriotic holiday in the United States of America that is celebrated on the last Monday in May. This was established in 1971 by Congress. However, Memorial Day once had a fixed date of May 30th. There are many who feel that we should return to a one day observation and celebration instead of the day weekend that has been ongoing since 1971.

There are many versions as to where Memorial day originated. Many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. However in 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace. The Waterloo, NY townspeople were the first recognized group to pay honor to the soldiers who had died in the Civil War. They paid their respects by closing their business for the day, flying flags at half-mast, and placing flowers and flags on the graves of the fallen Civil War soldiers.

Because of lingering hostilities between the Union (North) and the Confederates (South), southerners created their own version of Memorial Day to honor the Confederate dead. It's Called Confederate Memorial Day and remains a state holiday in many southern states.

While the first to be honored by a Memorial Day observance where those who had died, were injured, and had survived the Civil War. Now it honors those who died in the many wars and military actions our nation has been apart of. To name a few: Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.

The expansion from only the Civil War soldiers being remembered and honored to any American solider of any U.S. war or military action occurred after World War I.

The Memorial Day tradition involving the Indy 500 race has been ongoing since 1911.

The Memorial Day tradition of paying respects to graves has expanded from just the Civil War solider to all soldiers in U.S. wars or military action to that of friends and family members as well.

Memorial day is meant as a day of dignity and solemnity to pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom. It is also a day to reflect on our freedoms that we so freely enjoy.

All U.S. Flags should be displayed at half-staff during the morning hours. At noon they should be raised back to full-staff.

VFW Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans.

In February 1924 the VFW registered the name "Buddy Poppy" with the U.S. Patent Office. No other organization, firm, or individual can legally use the name "Buddy Poppy".

One flower that is associated with war and veterans is the red poppy. It was aided in its strong associated with war and veterans is the red poppy. It was aided in its strong association by the poem "In Flander's Field" written by Col. John McCrae of Canada.

Now that you have some tidbits of information regarding Memorial Day, I ask again what does Memorial Day mean to you? Have your answers changed any?

So take the day to remember those dearly departed friends, loved ones, and spend time with family members and friends who are still with us. Enjoy your BBQ's and picnics and holiday get together and the unofficial start to summer.

Bud do take a moment to reflect on the freedoms your enjoying and remember the brave men and women who gave their very lives so you can have the freedom to enjoy your holiday. If you see a veteran or solider don't look away but acknowledge him or her. Thank them for the sacrifices they either made or are making so that you and I and all the rest here in the United States can continue enjoying the freedoms we have.

In closing I share with you the unofficial yet highly popular words of Taps, links for further information, and a big heartfelt Thank You to our service men and women who are so brave.

Words to Taps (Note: there are no "official" words to Taps below are the most popular.)

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the solider
or sailor
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
'Neath the stars
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

Here are some Informational links on Memorial Day:

US Memorial Day

Thank you to all who have severed in the military!
Thank you to all who are serving presently in active military and national guard units!
Thank you for the sacrifices you make and made for our freedom!
Thank you for the sacrifices your families make so that you may serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Old Fashioned Butterscotch

1 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 T water
1½ t vingegar
¼ cup butter cut into 8 pieces
¼ t vanilla

Line an 8x8x2" baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter the foil; set aside.

Butter the sides of a heavy 1 quart saucepan. In the saucepan combine sugar, light corn syrup, water and vinegar. Cook over medium heat to boiling., stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar. This should take about 5 minutes. Carefully clip candy thermometer to side of pan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, while adding the ¼ cup butter, 2 pieces at a time. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till thermometer registers 300°, hard crack stage. Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface. Reaching hard crack stage should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer from saucepan. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared pan Let stand 5 to 10 minutes or till a film forms over surface of candy.

Using a broad spatula or pancake turner, begin marking candy by pressing a line across surface, ½" from edge of pan. Do not break the film on the surface. Repeat along other three sides of pan, intersecting lines at corners to form squares ( If candy does not hold it's shape, it is not cool enough to mark. Let candy stand a few more  minutes and start again)

Continue marking lines along all sides, ½" apart, till you reach the center. Retrace previous lines, pressing the spatula deeper but not breaking film on surface. Repeat till the spatula can be pressed to the bottom of pan along all lines.

Cool completely. Use the foil to lift candy out of the pan; break into squares. Store tightly covered.

Makes about 2/3 pound

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Caramel Pecan Sauce

¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 T cornstarch
¼ t salt
1/3 cup light cream
2 T light corn syrup
¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 T butter
1 T rum or brandy

In a heavy saucepan stir together brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Sir in ¼ cup water. Stir in light cream and corn syrup. Cook, stirring constantly, till thickened and bubbly (mixture may appear curdled during cooking) Stir in the coarsely chopped pecans, the butter, and rum or brandy. Remove from heat. Cover; cool to room temperature. Serve over ice cream. Makes about 1 cup.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


1 cup butter
1 16 oz package brown sugar
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a 9x9x2 inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter the foil; set pan aside.

In heavy 3 quart saucepan melt the 1 cup butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and light corn syrup; mix well. Carefully clip candy thermometer to side of pan.

Cook over medium hjeat, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 248° firm ball stage. Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface. Reaching firm ball stage should take 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat; remove candy thermometer from saucepan. Immediately stir in vanilla. Quickly pour the caramel mixture into prepared baking pan. When caramel is firm, use foil to life it out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut candy into 1" squares. Wrap each piece in clear plastic wrap. 

Makes 81 pieces or about 2¾ pounds.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Chocolate Buttercream

½ cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
1 square (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate cup up
1 t vanilla
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 lb dipping chocolate or confectioner's coating

Butter a baking sheet; set baking sheet aside. In a heavy 3 qt saucepan combine light corn syrup, the butter, and unsweetened chocolate. Cook over medum heat to boiling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. This should take 8 to 9 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat; add vanilla. Stir in the powdered sugar. 1 cup at a time, till well combined. Turn candy mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Cool till the mixture can be handled easily. This should take about 15 minutes. Knead mixture about 5 minutes or till smooth.

Shape candy into 1" balls; place balls on waxed paper. Let stand about 20 minutes or till dry. Melt dipping chocolate or confectioner's coating. Let stand till dry. Store tightly covered in a cool dry place. Makes about 60 pieces.

NOTE: If desired, immediately after shaping the candy into 1" balls, roll the balls in sifted powdered sugar or finely chopped nuts instead of dipping them into melted chocolate.