Wednesday, May 22, 2013

American as Apple Pie... Memorial Day Sweets!

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Who else has Memorial Day weekend on the brain? I know I do... and I just had a four day weekend lol. I never really thought much about Memorial Day aside from planning picnics, cookouts, time at the beach, or even a jaunt at the big amusement park down the street from me. But after the monthly team meeting at work where we learned a bit about the history of Memorial Day {formerly known as Decoration Day}, I finally took the time to understand the day's importance. It's a moment to reflect and thank those men and women who have served and given their lives in the Armed Forces to fight for our rights and freedoms. Both my dad and brother served in the U.S. Navy for several years. And growing up close to the Great Lakes Naval Base just north of Chicago meant we had many friends and extended family who were serving or closely tied to those that served.

Years ago, while my parents were focused on their catering business on weekends, my mom would drive to the Great Lakes Naval Base on Friday to pick up new recruits that were off duty. Many of these young guys were Filipino and were introduced to my parents by Naval officers who knew our family from when my dad and brother served. These young Filipino recruits missed their family and friends being away from home and it was my mom that stepped in to give them some of those comforts including her ever famous Filipino cooking.

Now this was a weekly thing. Friday nights we'd go and pick the guys up. They'd come over and my mom had one rule... which was, to remain respectful - to our home, our family, and to each other. Fair enough. But what amazes me as I think back to the years in which she continually opened up our home to these young men and women, was how appreciative they were. I can recall countless times when these young folks would take my mom aside and open up to her about their story. They shared their lives, their journey and how they got to where they were. Some of their stories were happy and full of joy. Others were full of challenging times and life struggles. But regardless of their stories, my mom treated them as her own family. And they viewed her and my family as their own.

As these recruits moved on from Great Lakes to be stationed elsewhere, we still hear from them even to this day. Their holiday cards find their way to our mailboxes year after year. Their phone calls to share their life events such as weddings, births, promotions, relocations, etc manage to follow our cell phone numbers. And on this Memorial Day, I can't help but be thankful for all those that serve in the Armed Forces... even more so if their lives were taken to protect our freedoms. Each of those that passed on left behind their story... their loved ones... and they need to be celebrated for their contributions. And it doesn't matter what background they come from. To me, we're all American as Apple Pie with a bit of unique flavor mixed in. So if you want to celebrate with something sweet, here are a few suggestions that I think are American as Apple Pie... Memorial Day Sweets!
























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