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Country Cousin

Memorial Day...

Hi Folks!

Monday, May 26 is Memorial Day, the day we should all ponder the sacrifices of the men and women who fought and died so that our nation could remain free. We owe it to them, and to their memories, to keep it free.

In most communities there will be memorial services in cemeteries, generally sponsored by veterans’ organizations. Sadly, there is likely to be little participation from those who are not veterans or spouses and children of veterans.

Most of us will put flowers on the graves of those we love who have gone on before us, veterans or not, and some families may spend a little time remembering. If the weather is fine, we will probably observe the holiday with a cookout or other family gathering after a quick visit to the cemetery.

That is good, but really our nation needs two holidays - one to remember all the dear, dead departed, and one specifically to remember those who gave their lives for the rest of us.

FEW PARADES

Crivitz used to have a Memorial Day parade, not a big gala event with floats and candy like the Fourth of July parade, but more of a ceremonial parade, with marching bands, veterans in vehicles or on foot, Scouts, and some others. As the parade went by those of us who watched fell in behind until we all ended at the cemetery for the Memorial Day services. And generally, most of the community participated, so there was a good crowd for the services, which included speeches, Taps, and a 21-gun salute.

That was a wonderful tradition, and one it would be good to revive, and for other communities to emulate.

A veteran writing on the website: “this ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here,” wrote sadly that this weekend we read about sales and vacation deals and holiday specials, but very, very little about observances of what the day really means.

Another, who lost more than a few friends, said he generally spends the day alone. Said he tends to punch out those who wish him, “Happy Memorial Day,” so it’s safer to be alone. “Significant Memorial Day,” yes, but happy? No, not if you spend it remembering fallen brothers and sisters we won’t see again until the Final Judgment Day.

ARLINGTON, 1982

President Ronald Reagan was a man with a great talent for inspiring words. He had talent for action and accomplishments, too. But that is for another story, on another day. At Memorial Day Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery on May 31, 1982, he declared:

“In America’s cities and towns today, flags will be placed on graves in cemeteries; public officials will speak of the sacrifice and the valor of those whose memory we honor.

“In 1863, when he dedicated a small cemetery in Pennsylvania marking a terrible collision between the armies of North and South, Abraham Lincoln noted the swift obscurity of such speeches. Well, we know now that Lincoln was wrong about that particular occasion. His remarks commemorating those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” were long remembered. But since that moment at Gettysburg, few other such addresses have become part of our national heritage - not because of the inadequacy of the speakers, but because of the inadequacy of words.

“I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.

“Yet, we must try to honor them, not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.

“Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we - in a less final, less heroic way - be willing to give of ourselves.

“It is this, beyond the controversy and the congressional debate, beyond the blizzard of budget numbers and the complexity of modern weapons systems, that motivates us in our search for security and peace. War will not come again, other young men will not have to die, if we will speak honestly of the dangers that confront us and remain strong enough to meet those dangers.

“It’s not just strength or courage that we need, but understanding and a measure of wisdom as well. We must understand enough about our world to see the value of our alliances. We must be wise enough about ourselves to listen to our allies, to work with them, to build and strengthen the bonds between us.

“Our understanding must also extend to potential adversaries. We must strive to speak of them not belligerently, but firmly and frankly. And that’s why we must never fail to note, as frequently as necessary, the wide gulf between our codes of morality. And that’s why we must never hesitate to acknowledge the irrefutable difference between our view of man as master of the state and their view of man as servant of the state. Nor must we ever underestimate the seriousness of their aspirations to global expansion. The risk is the very freedom that has been so dearly won.

“It is this honesty of mind that can open paths to peace, that can lead to fruitful negotiation, that can build a foundation upon which treaties between our nations can stand and last - treaties that can someday bring about a reduction in the terrible arms of destruction, arms that threaten us with war even more terrible than those that have taken the lives of the Americans we honor today.”

Reagan then spoke of efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons by negotiating a balance with the Soviet Union, and cautioned, “Our goal is peace. We can gain that peace by strengthening our alliances, by speaking candidly of the dangers before us, by assuring potential adversaries of our seriousness, by actively pursuing every chance of honest and fruitful negotiation.

“It is with these goals in mind that I will depart Wednesday for Europe, and it’s altogether fitting that we have this moment to reflect on the price of freedom and those who have so willingly paid it. For however important the matters of state before us this next week, they must not disturb the solemnity of this occasion. Nor must they dilute our sense of reverence and the silent gratitude we hold for those who are buried here.

“The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery. One gets that feeling here on this hallowed ground, and I have known that same poignant feeling as I looked out across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Europe, in the Philippines, and the military cemeteries here in our own land. Each one marks the resting place of an American hero and, in my lifetime, the heroes of World War I, the Doughboys, the GI’s of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. They span several generations of young Americans, all different and yet all alike, like the markers above their resting places, all alike in a truly meaningful way.

“Winston Churchill said of those he knew in World War II they seemed to be the only young men who could laugh and fight at the same time. A great general in that war called them our secret weapon, “just the best darn kids in the world.” Each died for a cause he considered more important than his own life. Well, they didn’t volunteer to die; they volunteered to defend values for which men have always been willing to die if need be, the values which make up what we call civilization. And how they must have wished, in all the ugliness that war brings, that no other generation of young men to follow would have to undergo that same experience.

“As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. And let us also pledge to do our utmost to carry out what must have been their wish: that no other generation of young men will ever have to share their experiences and repeat their sacrifice.

“Earlier today, with the music that we have heard and that of our National Anthem I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask. Thank you.”

ON THE SOAP BOX

A NATION GONE UNDER?


Wise statesmen since America began have been warning us not to turn away from God. One of them was President Ronald Reagan, who urged us to remember the reason for the many, many blessings our nation has received, when he said: “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under!”

We’re coming dangerously close! We still pledge allegiance to “one nation, under God,” and our paper money still bears our national motto: “In God we trust.”

But God is banned from classrooms, graduation ceremonies, and pretty much from public buildings. Some public bodies are so spineless that they begin their meetings with “a moment of silence” instead of “a moment of silent prayer.”

Some read the Constitution’s words about “freedom of religion” as “freedom from religion.”

As a nation we have turned our backs on our Judaeo/ Christian birthright for the sake of appearing cosmopolitan and tolerant to all.

Are we obliged to tolerate a religion that demands killing people who cannot be converted to their way of thinking? Must we respect the feelings of those who riot because they don’t like what an individual over here said? Shouldn’t we be fighting that philosophy harder than we ever fought Communism, Naziism or Fascism?

Our nation is in trouble, but help is available if we would only ask for it. God promised, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” - promise made by God to his Chosen People, in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

So, during this Memorial Day weekend especially, let us remember the sacrifices made for us, thank God for protecting out nation so far, and ask Him to direct us, as a nation, back to His ways so He indeed can forgive our sins and heal our land for which so many brave men fought and died.

A PROBLEM OF AGE

We’re supposed to respect our elders, but some of us find it harder and harder to find one.

COOKIN’ TIME

BEEFY BELLA BURGERS

Hefty new treat for the king of the back yard grill. This calls for six of things, but use whatever number you need. For vegetarians (Indian word for darn poor hunter) the grilled cheesy mushrooms make a good sandwich even without the beef patties.

6 ground beef patties

6 large portabella mushroom caps

Olive oil

Bacon drippings (or butter)

Garlic

Dill weed

Salt

Pepper, fresh ground

Balsamic vinegar

Mozzarella cheese

Smoked real Mozzarella cheese (optional)

Extra large whole wheat hamburger buns

Clean mushroom caps as needed and remove stem. Fine chop fresh garlic, and fine chop any fresh herbs - it’s is okay to use dried. Slice fresh, real Mozzarella cheese so that you have enough to cover the inside of each mushroom cap. Get the grill hot, or preferably get the coals ready. Mix together olive oil, bacon drippings (melted if need be), garlic, dill, pepper, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle burgers with salt, pepper and minced garlic and press in slightly. Brush grill grates with a bit of the olive oil mixture. Put on the burgers. Brush seasoned oil/bacon grease mixture onto mushroom caps and then grill face down for a bit, then flip and brush on a dab more of the oil/spice mixture. Drizzle a little bit of Balsamic vinegar into the caps, then place cheese to cover. Flip the burgers. Cook mushrooms until cheese melts. Put buns on the edge of the grill to heat while all the cooking is going on. Butter the buns ahead of time if you like. I like. If you don’t have a grill, cook in skillet cap side down, then flip and cook a bit longer. Cook burgers as usual and assemble.

PARTY BREAD

Goes wonderfully with just about anything that doesn’t come on a bun, from grilled steaks to Italian spaghetti to chicken soup.

1 long French bread, sliced in half

1 stick salted sweet butter

1/2 cup Hellman’s mayo (not low fat!)

1 cup finely chopped black olives

1/2 cup artichokes, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped green olives

2 cups finely shredded cheese (mix of Moz and Cheddar is

good)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dash of Italian seasoning

In a medium size bowl mix the mayo and butter together with seasonings, olives and artichokes. Stir in the cheese. Spread over the cut sides of the loaf. Heat at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let sit for five minutes. Cut in slices to serve.

SLOW COOKER PORK CHOPS

1 1/2 pounds boneless pork chops

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/3 can water

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon garlic powder or equivalent minced garlic

Dash of cayenne (not too much)

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine water, soup, cream cheese, and garlic. Put in slow cooker on low. Top with pork chops (sear if desired but not necessary) and salt and pepper. Cook for 8-10 hours. Serve with noodles, rice or mashed potatoes.

SLO COOKER BANANAS FOSTER

Almost too easy as a fitting end for a company meal, but it’s perfect. Let this cook away while you and your guests enjoy the main course, and then serve it proudly. If you’re brave and know the tricks, add hi-test rum to the top and set it aflame, but that really isn’t necessary. Chocolate chip or sugar wafer cookies go nicely with this if you need a little more heft to the dessert.

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 fresh bananas, cut into 1 inch slices

1/4 cup rum

Vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in slow cooker by turning cooker on low. It will take about 10 minutes. Mix in brown sugar when butter is melted. Gently stir in fresh bananas and rum. Cook on Low for 1 hour. Spoon banana mixture over vanilla ice cream and serve.

Thought for the Week: John Stewart Mills, who called Memorial Day “The Liberals’ self-decided day of ignorance,” wrote, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Amen, Mr. Mills. Let us all give thanks to God that there were - and are - men and women willing to fight and die for the nation they believed in! And let us seek out their families to offer our thanks and our sympathy.

(This column is written by Shirley Prudhomme of Crivitz. Views expressed are her own and are in no way intended to be an official statement of the opinions of Peshtigo Times editors and publishers. She may be contacted by phone at 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)

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