The Memorial Day Parade begins in front of my house every year. Well, parts of it. Participants line up along neighboring side streets, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, school groups, Veterans, local emergency services like the Fire Department, antique and classic car groups, and many other organizations who come out to pay tribute and remember the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 70,000 veterans live in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.
Memorial Day—originally called Decoration Day—unofficially began in 1865 to honor the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. The southern states didn’t observe the holiday (for obvious reasons) until after WWI.
Corvets line up for the start of the Memorial Day Parade. Fire Trucks are waiting down the opposite street.
In the cemetery near my house, there are numerous graves of GAR soldiers (Grand Army of the Republic). The GAR was composed of Union soldier veterans who had served in the Civil War. This was also among the first advocacy groups formed in the United States for American soldiers so the soldiers could network and maintain contact with each other. To this day, American flags are placed on their grave sites every Memorial Day.
I also remember my dad, Bernard John Dawson (1932-2002) who was a U.S. Navy Signalman during the Korean War. He was also a Navy scuba diver, before there were Navy Seals. I remember him letting me try out his scuba equipment in the lake near our house when I was eleven or twelve. The equipment consisted of double hose regulator, huge black rubber fins, a mask that was too big for my face. I scrunched my toes so the fins stayed on, and held the mask tight to my face to slow the leaks. My dad’s only instructions: “Don’t hold your breath, keep breathing. If you have a problem, drop everything and swim to the surface. I’ll get the stuff later.” I was part fish back then. I swam around the lake underwater, through the weeds, checking out the fish. Don’t think my mother knew or she’d have killed my dad. Many years later, I became a dive master. Thanks, Dad.
For those who see Memorial Day as the start of summer and celebrate with family picnics and barbecues, here’s a Key Lime Pie recipe.
Key Lime Pie
4 egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup key lime juice (I use Nellie’s & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice, or fresh squeezed key limes would be the best.)
1 9-inch baked graham cracker crust pie shell
4 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
8 Tablespoons of sugar (I use a little less)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend egg yolks and milk until well mixed. Slowly add the lime juice, mixing well. Custard will thicken as you add the lime juice. Pour into baked crust. Top with meringue.
Meringue: Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff. Slowly add sugar while beating. Whip until whites hold stiff peaks. Top pie filling. Bake 10 minutes or until meringue is delicately browned. Serve chilled.