When I was in 6th grade I had to memorize and recite a poem. I don’t remember any of the assignment requirements, but I do remember the poem- The Unknown Soldier by Emily Moralez. To this day, 22 years later, I can recite this poem on demand and it always fills me with a combination of pride and heartbreak. Pride that people love this country so much they would lay down their lives to protect it, despite all of the politics and divisiveness in the world, and heartbreak that this is even necessary and that their families have to give up people with so much courage and love.

Memorial Day is an opportunity to relax, barbeque, drink, and have fun with friends and family. And in many ways that’s exactly as it should be. We should celebrate our freedom. We are fortunate enough to have people who are willing to protect our rights and our comforts so we can go float the river, eat grilled meat, and drink wine. All I ask is that while you are enjoying yourself on Memorial Day, take a moment to raise your glass in honor of those who have died to protect us.

Memorial Day comes at the beginning of many people’s summer. While quite often it’s been warm for months here in Houston (although somewhat less so this year), for others it’s just starting to warm up and they’re still acclimating to higher temperatures and humidity. As someone who lives with heat and humidity year-round, I have a few tips to keep your wine and dessert cool and delicious.

In terms of wine, I recommend lighter bodied red wines and white wines that are kept properly chilled. You can keep wine cold by using a standard ice bucket, or you can get classy and use a pretty chiller. The boyfriend’s sister gave me a really cool wine chiller for Christmas and it’s one of the few I actually like. Too many wine chillers just don’t live up to their promise, but this one will. You just add ice to the center section and put your wine in the outer one. The wine doesn’t get watered down from the ice because it’s kept separate. It works best if your wine is already chilled and you just need to keep it chilled, but it will also cool room temperature wine, which is something few chillers will do. Just get the wine in the chiller a good 30 minutes before your guests arrive and you will be golden.

Since it’s hot out your guests will probably want something cool. I recommend a nice, simple strawberry shortcake or cream cheese stuffed strawberries. These are great options because they’re easy to put together and you don’t have to have the oven on in the heat. If you’re not afraid to turn on the oven, a citrus angel food cake is a nice, light option for summer.

 

The Unknown Soldier by Emily Moralez

There’s a graveyard near the White House
Where the Unknown Soldier lies,
And the flowers there are sprinkled
With the tears from mother’s eyes.

I stood there not so long ago
With roses for the brave,
And suddenly I heard a voice
Speak from out the grave:

‘I am the Unknown Soldier,
The spirit voice began
‘And I think I have the right
To ask some questions man to man.

‘Are my buddies taken care of?
Was their victory so sweet?
Is that big reward you offered
Selling pencils on the street?

‘Did they really win the freedom
They battled to achieve?
Do you still respect that Croix de Guerre
Above that empty sleeve?
‘Does a gold star in the window
Now mean anything at all?
I wonder how my old girl feels
When she hears a bugle call.

‘And that baby who sang
Hello, Central, give me no man
Can they replace her daddy
With a military band?

‘I wonder if the profiteers
Have satisfied their greed?
I wonder if a soldier’s mother
Ever is in need?

‘I wonder if the kings, who planned it all
Are really satisfied?
They played their game of checkers
And eleven million died.

‘I am the Unknown Soldier
And maybe I died in vain,
But if I were alive and my country called,
I’d do it all over again.

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