Living in Society

Memorial Day Weekend 2022

Service Flags

The only national holiday I note is Memorial Day. Giving one’s life for their country is the ultimate sacrifice, something to be noted and revered, even if the death occurred in the most ignominious circumstances. Long ago I fell away from celebrating birthdays and holidays. My celebratory focus is the Memorial Day weekend.

Partly, it’s because Memorial Day is in spring. Leaves on the fruit trees and oaks look the best they do all year, before insects arrive and ravage the pristine growth. I endeavor to get the garden in by now, although I’m behind this year.

Military service has been important in my life. I wanted to do my part for a greater good and that led me to enlist in 1975. I was a peacetime soldier. It seems important to recognize those who gave their lives while serving in the military.

The weekend began last weekend when I asked our state house candidate whether they would attend the fire fighter’s breakfast to greet people. No, there were other plans. Even though our child left home in 2007, my spouse remains with her sister to finish the move to Des Moines, and I don’t get out much, I continue well-worn habits.

Friday, for the first time since March 13, 2020, I had dinner at a restaurant with friends. Our political writing group has been itching to get out and break the coronavirus pandemic isolation. A good time was had at a local brewery where they make an “Iowa City lager.” I learned to love pilsner beers while serving in the military. We have been writing together since we met before the 2006 general election cycle.

Saturday was a catch up in the garden day. I spaded the last plot, planted bell peppers, and harvested what is expected to be an avalanche of kale and other greens. I cleaned up and moved to the kitchen where I made a batch of vegetable broth. I closed the evening there, made a big salad for dinner, and water bath canned the vegetable broth, finishing up at bedtime.

I missed listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. The program was my Saturday night for so many years. I couldn’t stand the loss so I went to the living room and turned on the new (to us) digital television to watch an episode of Pati Jinich’s Mexican Table from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Jinich is no Garrison Keillor, and that’s a good thing. Her history as a policy analyst, focused on Latin American politics and history, makes her more interesting. Nonetheless, I missed the tradition of listening to the radio while working in the kitchen. No. I’m not hooking up a television in the kitchen to watch cooking shows. That would be so wrong.

Today is the fire fighters breakfast and I plan to attend when they open at 6:30 a.m. Almost everyone in the area comes into the station and I can break the isolation at home for an hour. I don’t particularly enjoy the industrial food, yet greeting locals I haven’t seen since last year makes the event worthwhile.

After the breakfast I would normally get out a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby for my annual read. It is one of the best books about summer, although I missed last year’s read and may let it lie this year as well. Noting my fandom, our child gave me a couple of posters derived from the book. They are not a fan of Gatsby. I hope to get the posters framed. I may yet read Fitzgerald again, although it’s time for new habits and new interests. The garden isn’t in yet so there is that work to do today. I’ll need something else after it is in.

Tomorrow is the holiday and I’ll put the flag outside. I eschew the ceremonies in town which have turned into an “all veterans” celebration. That misses the point. I considered driving west in the new legislative district to Marengo for their Memorial Day remembrance. The legion has gone to an “all veterans” format as well. I’ll likely just drive to the cemetery and pay my respects after breakfast this morning.

Freedom has a cost, and there is no more salient aspect of it than the sacrifices men and women made by giving their lives in military service. Memorial Day celebrations are tempered with a feeling of loss, isolation, and sadness this year. One hopes participating in the holiday makes us stronger as we enter summer.