Saturday, June 4, 2022

Memorial Day Memories

 Memorial Day Memories

Hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day Weekend.  The weather was great and we got to travel to the cemetery where my husband's parents and relatives are buried.  I like to take flowers for Memorial Day - usually red/white/blue - but being that they are of Ukrainian descent and buried in the Ukrainian cemetery, I was excited to find these sunflowers.  Sunflowers are the flower of Ukraine.  These looked so hardy and will take a lot of sun.

John's dad was a WWII veteran who landed on Normandy Beach and fought across Europe to Germany.  I was glad to see that the flag on his grave was a nice, fresh new one.
A nice tradition is that the priest from St. John's Ukrainian Catholic Church comes and prays for all the souls buried in the cemetery - and if you let him know ahead of time he mentions them by name.
Then the priest walks from grave to grave and blesses each one where family members are standing.

He prays and sings a song in Ukrainian that means "may their memory be eternal".  It is a beautifully sad song.

We made sure to get sunflowers for John's grandparents, too.  This may seem to some as a sad visit, but it is good to remember the people who came before us, and it is nice to visit with all the other people who are in the cemetery that day.

After the services at the cemetery we head a few blocks away to a local volunteer fire company for lunch.  This fire company always has a picnic - or block party - on Memorial Day Weekend.  We love to eat the ethnic food!
The most delicious bean soup is made in big, black pots and cooked for hours over an open fire.  

Long poles stir the soup  - they sell it by the cup or by the quart.

No cash is used - you need to purchase food tickets.  For the first time this year we noticed you could purchase you tickets with a credit card. Over the years the prices have increased.  When we were children there were picnics and block parties each weekend .

We purchase enough tickets to eat a good lunch, and the rest is a donation for the fire company.

The big draw at these events are the "bleenies" - or potato pancakes.  In Slovak they are called "platsky" - but whatever you call them, the are DELICIOUS!  This is the bleenie line.  There is always a line for these treats...the line was relatively short when we arrived.  We waited about a half an hour to get served....but that was because people were purchasing several dozen at a time.

Here we are....waiting patiently for our bleenies.

The batter of grated potatoes, onions, flour and I am not sure what else is dropped into troughs of hot oil and cooked until golden brown.  When we were young, these bleenies were 3 for a dollar.  Now they are a dollar each - and worth it.

You can see the enamel pan holding the batter...and the woman with the pitcher is adding more oil to the grills.   The oil is a new thing we saw for the first time....usually these are cooked in lard!

Having done this job myself in years past I know how hot and tired you can get...these volunteers were the best!  You can see the finished bleenies draining off the oil...

And here they are !  Golden brown and delicious.  We limit ourselves to 6 - 3 for each of us.  But could eat a lot more because they are SO good.

Paired with a cup of that wonderful, smoky bean soup and it is a delicious lunch - we wait for this all year !

While we were eating the band started to play...and since we were in the coal regions of Pennsylvania, what else?  Polkas !

Since we live over an hour drive away from the cemetery and picnic we were ready for some ice cream on the way home.  We used to live close to this ice cream and food stand and always try to stop when we are in the area...

The ice cream is all made here and there are wonderful flavors...

We chose Butter Brickle and Mint Chocolate Chip!

There is a small stream that runs behind the picnic tables...lots of ducks and little children wading and looking for fish!

This one came right over to us and wandered around looking for french fries and pieces of the ice cream cones!

It was a wonderful day...and we hope to be able to keep up this tradition for many Memorial Days to come.  We noticed that the crowds at the cemetery are getting smaller as the years go by - and we hope that this service will continue.
What traditions do you have for Memorial Day ?  Did you do something new this year?  Please let me knwo and leave a comment below - I love hearing from you !  Have a great week and Happy Summer!


  1. This is a wonderful tradition you have! I’d not want to miss a single opportunity! We have no particular tradition here for Memorial Day. Before I retired, there were often times when school was still in session, and Memorial Day wasn’t included as a holiday in our school calendar. The calendar has been realigned, and now the school year is over before Memorial Day.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nellie - when I was teaching school I always liked to do a display of books for Memorial Day. Hope you are having a good summer so far!

  2. It's nice to have that tradition for Memorial Day Ann. It looks like you all had a great day. We usually go to a family BBQ or have one ourselves at home. I hope you have a nice week Ann.

    1. Hi Julie - yes, you have to have some kind of BBQ for Memorial Day. We did burgers the next day...though we did not have much room after all that food. Hope you are having a great summer so far!


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