Hooray, it’s a three-day weekend! All across the States, folks are heaving a sigh of relief at having a Monday off from their crazy schedules. But Memorial Day weekend—with its annual mix of events (and emotions) that run the gamut from backyard leisure bliss to solemn ceremonial remembrances—stands apart in a unique way. It’s a combination of reverence and playtime that, well, can only happen in the good ole U.S.A. So how will you spend yours? Maybe with a combo like this.
1. Take a pop quiz. Memorial Day means (a) local pools are opening, (b) campgrounds get filled to the hilt, (c) the Super Sales are beyond belief on everything imaginable, or (d) the kids go wild smelling summer break oh-so near. Alright, probably all of the above. But now, take this quiz from the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet, and have the kids take it, too. Find more quick facts about the establishment and history of Memorial Day in this History Channel video and at this USA.gov page, and check into the impressive range of Memorial Day-related links here. Okay, class dismissed (for now).
2. Get your Q on. It’s as American as apple pie to have a communal cookout on this weekend. So, burgers and brats? Nice, but …. This is “The Year of BBQ,” says the Food Network’s Grilling Central, which is piled high with smokin’ recipes and how-tos, along with classic picnic sides and cool-down cocktails. (Hmm, Sangria?) Fire your inspiration with the videos of celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Michael Symon divulging the best BBQ they’ve ever eaten, and then head to BBQ Sauce Reviews for sauces, rubs and seasonings ratings, plus BBQ tools and tech reviews. (Yes, there is such a thing as BBQ technology.) Another mouth-waterer is Epicurious’s Ultimate Grilling and Barbeque Guide. (Check out their book list of classic titles like The Barbeque Bible, Thrill of the Grill and Taming the Flame, too.) And see Saveur’s special “BBQ Nation” issue, with its amazing features covering BBQ spots and techniques and some very tasty recipes from across the nation. (Peanut butter pie, yum.) A true not-to-be-missed: John T. Edge’s cover article paying homage to the unnamed pitmasters of the American South, for which he nabbed a 2012 James Beard Foundation Distinguished Writing Award.
3. I love a parade, and sparklers, too. Really, folks from sea to shining sea do love a parade. And there’s a boatload (or floatload) of them all over the country this weekend, from the National Memorial Day Parade presented by the American Veteran’s Center in D.C. (this year’s Grand Marshall is Chuck Yeager) and extending to practically every town and city in the 50 states (like the ones in this Nationwide Memorial Day Parade Directory). Or maybe you and the neighbors are in the mood to whip up your own floats and put on a block parade complete with tunes—heck, go for it. Then you can head to the local fireworks display (which is part of the total weekend package, of course). Learn how they work here, and bone up on popular varieties with Name the Shell at Nova’s companion site to its broadcast series “Fireworks!” Say you can’t stand the crowd or the super-sonic noise of a full-on fireworks fest? Here’s a little display just for you.
4. Observe the wreath-laying tradition. Among all the traditional activities associated with this weekend, the first and foremost is, of course, to pause in our lives in special remembrance of all those who’ve fallen in the service of their country. A national minute of silence takes place Monday at 3 p.m., local time. Also, while the best-known wreath-laying ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in D.C., there are multiple other locations where you can attend one, such as the sites in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ list of national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries, as well as historical graveyards found in local guidebooks. You can sponsor wreaths to be placed at Arlington as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states through the nonprofit Wreaths Across America.
5. Ponder how you might serve. Lastly, when you find a few moments of alone time this weekend, consider the opportunities at the Pro Bono Center on the ABA’s Home Front site, dedicated to providing service members and military families with resources for understanding legal issues and obtaining law-related assistance for the daily problems they face. Lawyers can also find volunteer information through the VA Voluntary Service site and this National & Community Service page. You can even do something as simple as click once a day at The Veterans Site.com to help fund meals for veterans in need.
Truly, the cookouts, the campgrounds, the lawn games, the parades and the sparklers really are part of why this weekend is special … but it’s also good to remember why you got Monday off to begin with.
We at Attorney at Work wish a pleasant and memorable weekend to all.
Joy M. White is a professional editor and writer who has crafted publications, features and marketing materials for more than two dozen years. She also served as Editor of ABA Law Practice magazine for a decade. As principal of JMW Editorial Services, her publishing consulting specialties encompass law practice content, business management issues and technology-focused materials. Joy is Contributing Editor at Attorney at Work.