Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend....A Day To Honor Our Soldiers.......

Well, its here, Memorial Day weekend! The unofficial start of the Summer season. The last Monday in May is celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States since 1971. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and then changed in 1882 to Memorial Day. A day that we commemorate for all American soldiers who died in military service. Memorial Day is an occasion for expressions of memory, as people visit the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not. As time marches on it now has become a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family get-togethers, BBQ’s, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 auto race, held since 1911 on Memorial Day.
(from the left) My grandfather Louis,
my grandmother Julia, my mother Madeline,
my father Robert, and my grandfather Julius
( 1952 )

Recently my mother shared with me a story about her father, my grandfather who fought in the war. I really never knew the story about my grandfather and his Army days, so this is what I learned …..
My grandfather Louis Fiore served in the Army. He was a corporal in the 9th US Infantry and was in Company A. When he was 17 he enlisted. (which he was under age) My great grandmother Madeline had 9 children and five were boys all of whom were in the service at the same time. One of my grandfather’s brothers was in the Coast Guard and his other three brothers were in the Army the same as he was. My grandfather fought in WWI and was wounded, (shot in the leg) in the battle at Chateau-Thierry, in France. My grandfather was taken to a MASH unit and told the Dr’s to take care of the other soldiers first. He was very compassionate and thought that there were other men that were hurt more than he was. Finally, he had his surgery and was taken with an ambulance to another site, as they were leaving in the ambulance, they looked back and the MASH unit where he had his surgery had been blown up. He received a Purple Heart for his bravery and other medals as well. After his leg healed, he chose to go to Germany and joined the Army of Occupation with his old unit. He also wanted to see if any of his Army buddies were still alive and made it out ok. (The Army of Occupation goes into a defeated country to enforce peace and keep order.) When he passed on he was buried with honors in the Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York. I am so proud to have a grandfather who loved his country to defend it for our freedom. So today I honor him on this Memorial Day weekend.

For us Italian Americans it is especially important to remember that more that 1.5 million Italian Americans served in World War II – thousands of them died to liberate Italy. All Italians and Italian Americans have much to be grateful for today on this Memorial Day. Memorial Day is also a time to celebrate peace and sacrifice. There are many popular activities that some may enjoy such as, Memorial Day parades that take place in your local towns or cities. Some towns have long week-end festivals, and then there are shopping frenzies with sales and discounts to honor our servicemen. Going to the beach and family BBQ’s are also a fun way to celebrate. Some fun activities that children can do to commemorate this Memorial Day weekend may be to create a scrapbook, with highlighted memories from your local town’s celebration. Another game may be to see who can name all of the states. As you travel, count how many license plates can be found from the different states. Who ever counts the most wins.

 One way to kick off the summer is with a family barbeque. There is nothing like cooking outside on a grill. As you and your family reminisce about loved ones in the service there are so many quick and easy ideas for a very tasty BBQ. Some options are fresh corn on the cob roasted on the grill, enjoy the flavor of blueberry and rhubarb pies with homemade vanilla ice cream, and don’t forget, the gooey barbeque sauce or glaze to coat on your favorite meat, seafood or fresh vegetables…… yum, finger lick’ in good.

This weekend’s recipe is called Jell-O Poke cake. May 28th is National Jell-O day so what better way to honor the day with a wonderful and easy cake recipe. My family has used this recipe for many occasions. I remember when I first learned how to make this cake. I had so much fun when my Mother said to poke holes in the cake and then we would pour the Jell-O so it would flow throughout the holes. You can make this cake at anytime of the year; only use the Jell-O flavors that correspond with the holiday. Like if you were going to use it for Easter, you could use Lemon and Lime Jell-O. For Christmas you can use Red (Cherry) and Green (Lime). I think you can figure out the rest. Peter Cooper, inventor and founder of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, obtained the first American patent for the manufacture of gelatin. In 1895, cough syrup manufacturer Peal B. Wait purchased the patent and developed a packaged gelatin dessert. Wait’s wife May, named it “Jell-O” and the rest is history. This is the perfect dessert for a patriotic weekend. It is made with Red and Blue Jell-O, plus cool whip, a very refreshing and sweet way to end your celebration of Memorial Day. So enjoy your BBQ and your Jell-O Poke Cake.

Jell-O Poke Cake

2 baked 9 inch white cake layers (any cake mix will do)
2 cups of boiling water
1 package of Jell-O (red)
1 package of Jell-O (blue)
1 tub of Cool Whip (20 oz container)

Place cooked layers top sides back in 2 separate 9” round cake pans. Pierce cake with large fork at 1/2 inch increments. Stir 1 cup boiling water into each flavor of the gelatin in separate bowls for 2 minutes or until dissolved. Carefully pour red gelatin over cake layer and lime gelatin over the second layer. Refrigerate 3 hours. Dip pan in warm water for 10 seconds, to help un-mold and then onto a serving plate. Spread with 1 cup of whipped topping. Un-mold second layer, carefully place on first layer covered with whipped topping. Frost with remaining whipped topping. Garnish as desired with some berries. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Store in refrigerator if there is any left.  
Tips: You can substitute with Cool Whip Light and also the cake can be made with sugar free Jell-O

However you celebrate your Memorial Day remember to incorporate your holiday traditions with your family and no matter where you are, take time to be thankful for our freedom.

Till next time……..
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