A Maryland kind of Memorial Day
by Suzanna Molino Singleton
Memorial Day in Maryland is all-American red, white and blue ... beach bound to Ocean City, Hon … no flight needed but you better like traffic … it’s the ‘ahhhhh’ sight of water beyond the Bay Bridge … and a zillion American flags waving to you as you’re driving along.
A weekend of family cookouts, freshly power-washed decks, green grassy yards and blue pool parties … the familiar smell of fired-up grills (can you believe dads once used bags of charcoal on circular metal grills?) Ahhhhhhh, sweet Dad, the grillin’ whiz of the house, stepping outside holding a plate of raw food in one hand and a cold Natty Boh in the other, sporting a matching apron.
Black-striped chicken sizzlin’ on the rack, sharing space with Oscar Meyer hotdogs and hot burgers, later smothered in bright yellow French’s mustard and Heinz 57’s bright red oozing out of the roll and staining our shirts.
The unwritten spring rule: pools must be opened by Memorial Day! Childhood memories … community parades ... flags secured to every float … it’s the good ole’ U.S. of A. Was then … still is. We stand prouder in Twenty-Eighteen.
“Pomp and circumstance” parading through the streets … “A Memorial Day parade in Govans, then a cookout at my Uncle Tom’s house,” Maureen Pinnix remembers. “Our father taught us to take off our hats and salute the color guards, American Legion reps, and VFW guys. Of course, we bought the poppy pins, too.” (Poppy pins? absolutely yes … since 1922 … “a poppy worn, a hero honored”)
And if the parade wasn’t on your Maryland Memorial Day weekend lineup, you were “getting up at three o’clock in the morning to help Dad tie the chicken necks to the crab traps, being on the water by sun-up, crabbing until we had our bushel, and then going home to steam them,” Michele Oehrl remembers, as a kid.
Rosanna Biscotti watched war movies with her father until the TV went off the air playing The National Anthem.
Proud to be an American … where at least I know I'm free.
Let us not fail to remember the factual significance of Memorial Day – a national holiday since 1971 and first observed waaaaaay back in 1868. As we listen to people mindlessly utter, “Happy Memorial Day!” … we realize the meaning isn’t so happy, and is that actually the proper phrase?
Cuz it ain’t about hotdogs and it ain’t about the beach, Hon, it’s about memorializing those active military personnel, the fallen heroes’ valor, who gave up their precious lives for our God-Bless-America … who ended in Arlington … our fellow men and women of the United States Army … our Air Force … our Navy … our Marines.
For. Our. Freedom.
It’s why everything’s closed and everyone’s off work … an active 3-day weekend with a bonus Monday to reflect.
So salute your flag, and salute your veterans, and salute those handsome young faces in military uniform staring at you from photos in the living room. That’s what we’re grilling for. That’s what the mall sales are for. That’s why the pool is ready. That’s why the car salesperson is yelling at us from a TV commercial.
And although Memorial Day is not actually about any of the insignificant things Americans make it about, it also IS … as President Ronald Reagan once reminded us: “Today is a day to be with the family and to remember – and that’s good.”Route One Apparel salutes America’s veterans – on this Memorial Day – and every day