My dad served in the military for over 20 years. I grew up on post housing and I’m a proud Army brat. I put up our American flag every Memorial Day, and sometimes celebrate by going to the ceremony at our local veterans’ monument or other patriotic events. And I always take a moment to recognize the servicemen and women who died for our country.
I don’t mean to belittle the holiday for what it stands for. At the same time, I know that for most Alaskans, especially in the Southcentral region where I live, Memorial Day weekend marks the calendar for another reason—it’s the unofficial start of summer.
Memorial Day weekend is important for gardeners in Southcentral Alaska because it’s usually the first day it’s safe to plant. According to our local experts, we can put plants in the ground when the birch tree leaves are the size of squirrel ears. Most years, that’s around Memorial Day. So many gardeners plant all weekend.
Memorial Day weekend is also the first weekend most Southcentral Alaskans go camping or fishing. The Glenn and Seward Highways are full of campers, cars, and trucks. The campgrounds are full. Never mind that it usually seems to rain that weekend. It’s still warm enough to go for a hike, roast marshmallows over a campfire, or try out that new fishing gear.
What did I do on Memorial Day weekend this year? I put the flag up by my front door, of course. I thought of the soldiers, airmen, and sailors who gave us this day. I planted a few veggies—this spring, it got warm early, so most of my plants are already in. I declined to join the conga line of vehicles on the highway, but I did enjoy the half-deserted grocery store and movie theatre. Overall, it was a nice weekend. Hope you had a good one, too.