Each year Memorial Day weekend seems to arrive on the scene before I can ever manage to do much planning or preparation for it. My youngest’s birthday falls on Memorial Day weekend, so often times most of my efforts are spent planning something for him and the thought of doing something else just never comes together. Besides we are usually huddled inside hiding out from the rain on Memorial Day Weekend anyway so it’s hard to get too excited about throwing an outdoor party together. I have to say I wanted to make this post about throwing together some quick food for your BBQ, welcome to summer celebrations, but as I sat down to write I felt like I needed to go a different direction.
This weekend more than most has really special significance for us. We are a Navy family, something I haven’t talked a lot about here on the blog for various reasons, but for some time we’ve had a unique window on which to view the importance of honoring the fallen. My husband recently retired from serving, so I guess you could say we are fairly intimately acquainted with the importance of Memorial Day.
Outside of the experience my boys have had while growing up with a Dad who was frequently gone, I wanted them from an early age to understand the importance of honoring the men and women whom have served our nation and who are now no longer with us. I really wanted them to get that much of what they enjoy, the freedom that comes from living here in America, has come at a price. It’s a pretty big concept for kids to get their minds around but as they’ve grown they are finally beginning to understand on a more mature level the complexity and heaviness of it all.
I thought I had a pretty good handle how important Memorial Day was, until for the first time, I went to Arlington National Cemetery. Just two years ago I stood at the top of a hill overlooking a large part of the Cemetery and was stunned at the sight: a veritable sea of white grave markers. As far as the eye could see. In my mind I knew this view represented only a small, very small portion of those who had died in the defense our our nation. It was beyond humbling.
And while I’ve been spared the knowledge of how hard that sacrifice is on a personal level, and as such will never really know the depths of sadness and loss so many have felt, I do feel more solemn about this weekend than I ever have before. The loss of so many, in so many ways should be remembered and honored and their lives and sacrifice celebrated. So this Monday we are going to have a family picnic, attend a local Memorial Day ceremony and spend some time remembering.
I want the day to be low key and while we’ll be celebrating the arrival of summer by grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, I’ll also make a few easy to prepare sandwiches and salads. Open face sandwiches are a Scandinavian tradition that just feels right here. Easy to throw together, everyone can easily create their own masterpiece and if you decide a picnic is in the plan for the day, a cinch to carry along.
The salad is just as easy to prepare, super healthy and full of flavor. Thin ribbons of fresh zucchini, drizzled in olive oil and lemon juice are topped with crumbled feta and red pepper flakes. Mint or fresh chopped oregano sprinkled on top finishes everything off nicely.
Happy Memorial Day Friends! I hope you and your loved ones can take a moment in the midst of your own parties and outings to gather, remember and be grateful…
- 6-7 small zucchini sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
- 8 oz feta cheese cumbled
- 3 tbsp fresh mint chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh oregano chopped
- 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- Place the zucchini on a large platter and sprinkle the cheese over the top. In a small jar with a lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Shake until combined. Pour over the salad just prior to serving. Sprinkle the herbs and some crushed red pepper over the top if desired.