Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Memorial Day used to be called Flag Day or Decoration Day. Can you blame me if when I was a child I thought the day was an event to honor flowers, especially irises, since we called irises "flags" back then and we used to cut armsful of them to take to the cemetery? My mother loved irises and grew dozens of varieties. Most of mine are descendants of some of my favorites from her garden. Along with all of the names given the day and the rituals and observances, it has an additional spot dear to most American hearts as the first "real" holiday of the summer.

The weekend started Friday with a couple of garden projects which involved moving a sprinkler and building two small walls out of rampart blocks. Both projects improved the appearance of my flowerbeds, but left my husband and me with a few sore muscles.

My husband and I observed Memorial Day a little early by visiting four cemeteries Saturday. We took flowers to Taylorsville, Murray, North Ogden, then Wellsville. In North Ogden we arrived in time to hear a veterans' group rehearsing for a military funeral. The haunting sound of taps brought a lump to my throat.

I'd never been to the Wellsvile cemetery before, though a large portion of the people buried there are relatives, and I've visited Logan many times. I wanted to visit my grandmother's grave. It took some serious searching and the help of a professional photographer who was chronicling tombstones for an online geneology service, but we finally found it.

My grandmother, Roselia, was a young woman in her twenties when she died leaving five small children, one of which was my mother. My grandfather eventually remarried and moved to another state where at the end of his long life, he was buried beside his second wife. I don't know if such things matter to the deceased, but I was glad to see she was buried near her three sisters who died as children, her parents, and her maternal grandparents, Azial and Emeline Riggs. My ancestors were among those first rugged pioneers who settled in beautiful Cache Valley and visiting that cemetery and seeing tombstones with the names I'd only seen before on charts gave me a pleasant sense of continuity with my family's past.

We started the real Memorial Day by cooking breakfast for our children and their families. The family wasn't complete; two sons-in-law had to work and our son and his wife were away on a little trip. I thought it ironic that our son-in-law who is a wounded vet had to work on the day set aside to honor those who served our country in combat. In his absence I made omelets which is usually his specialty while other family members took turns overseeing the strawberry pancakes.

I get hungry for strawberry pancakes every spring. My mother used to pick strawberries from her garden, crush some of them to make strawberry syrup, cut the rest in small pieces, and layer the syprup and berries between layers of pancakes or waffles, then top the concoction with whipped cream. It's was a great way to start the summer.
Comments can include anything concerning Memorial Day or the beginning of summer rituals. I'll also be posting on the V-Formation blog tomorrow. Any comments attached to that blog will also count toward this win-a-book contest.


Amy Btw M said...

Memorial day is always fun. It usually involves a BBQ and family. We didn't get out to the graves yet, but I think a few of us might go out this weekend. I also have some family members in the Cache valley cemeteries.

Randy and Lisa said...

Memorial Day has always been a day of visiting cemetaries. I can remember going to the cemetary in Bancroft, Idaho with my family. There we would put flowers on the graves of my Grandma's brothers and sister, and my grandpa's father. Later it evolve into the graves of my grandma's parents and grandpa's mother. I always did my part by putting dandelions on my relatives' graves.
Now there are a lot more people to add flowers too. This year my husband and I bought flowers, but other family had already placed several on all the usual graves. We put ours on the graves of my grandfather's aunt, and two of her children. No one had been to visit their graves, and I hate seeing those forgotten.
I also have ancestors buried down in Cache Valley, some in Logan, but most in Newton. We don't usually make it down to those ones, but I know that they know they are being honored by how I live my life, and as I search out their histories.
Of course Memorial Day was also a time for camping down in the mountains around Beaver, Utah, but even then we would come down to place flowers on those of my dad's family in the Beaver Cemetary.
Thanks for bringing back such memories.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Hi Jennie - I'm now craving those incredible strawberry pancakes! I just may try them out on my family this coming Sunday. Pancakes are our Sunday tradition. Yum! Thanks!

Jennie said...

Danyelle, I cook the syrup. I don't just crush the berries. I use about one cup (more or less) of crushed berries, one to two cups sugar (depends on how sweet you like your syrup), and a cup of water, then let it boil down to a light syrup. It makes just enough to fill my syrup pitcher. (Guess why I don't write cookbooks!) One of my sisters just thaws a jar of frozen strawberry jam in the microwave to use for the syrup.

AzGirl in TX said...

Oh, those pancakes sound yummy... and a bit like what my husband likes to do with waffles!

For summer traditions... we like to cram as many people as we can into my gradparents house and have a lot of yummy food... sometimes from the barbeque, and sometimes not - unfortunately we moved too far away to attend these family get-togethers, and so we are starting new traditions: like exploring the Alamo, and other historic places around here ;^) Summer is my time of year (I was born in August...) and I love it.