I hope that when you enjoy all the parties this weekend, you will also stop to think about what Memorial Day really stands for. The brave women and men that have fought and risked the ultimate price, so that we have freedom to enjoy throwing those steaks on the barbecue, and perhaps having “a few too many.”

Julie Anne Rhodes

Julie Anne Rhodes

It has nothing to do with whether we believe our leaders were right or wrong to send our soldiers in. What matters is those soldiers were willing to conquer unimaginable fear to fight for a country they believe in, our country. Our soldiers and their families deserve proper recognition and respect for that. It is also a day that reminds me to be grateful for my own family – that they are all still here, and healthy.

Julie Anne Rhodes with her family

Jewels and Family

War was something I read about in newspapers and history books, or watched in horror on the television, but it never touched me personally. I never lost a loved one in battle, so it was easy for me to lose sight of the solemness of this particular holiday.  A trip home a couple years ago made war, and it’s price, a much more personal reality for me. It just seemed right to share this blog post with you again this weekend:

THE HOMECOMING

Posted on September 17, 2010 by Jewels

Julie Anne Rhodes with mom in 1968

He smiled as our eyes met, a handsome young air force pilot looking resplendent in his uniform. I know the military look is “in” this year, but I’d never taken particular notice of men in uniform before, except for the horror tinged awe I felt as a child watching the soldiers go off to Vietnam.

Tatjana and Julie Anne Rhodes, 1988
As I took my seat I couldn’t help thinking how young he looked – younger than my own daughter. I couldn’t begin to imagine the unthinkable. My uncle served in Korea before I was born, but other than that none of my family or close friends have served in the armed services.
Once the plane began to circle Des Moines, I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. It felt good to be home, and I was looking forward to seeing my parents and their anxiously awaiting open arms. Considering how I left as young as possible, and spent most of my adult life avoiding my home town, this too struck me as odd.
Happy to be home with mom and dad
Then the pilot announced we would be landing shortly, but would everyone please remain seated until a special serviceman left the plane first. I turned to look at him, and heard him say “there they are” as he swallowed deeply. My eyes followed his gaze to the group of people and a hearse waiting on the tarmac that he was referring to. Then it hit me – the uniform that had caught my eye was his dress uniform. He was escorting his best friend home on what should have been the friend’s 21st birthday.
Unlike the usual shoving, heaving race to deplane, we all sat perfectly still with tears streaming down our faces as we watched the dead soldier’s mother throw her arms around the young air force pilot, leaning into him to keep from collapsing. All of us unwitting voyeurs into their private grief. I am now, no longer able to feel removed from the tremendous sacrifice of war. We watched as he saluted the casket being removed from the plane, then in deafening silence, I too deplaned – with the image of that brave soldier and grieving mother emblazoned across my heart forever.
Tatjana and Julie Anne Rhodes
Tatjana and Julie Anne Rhodes
Thank you for taking the time to stop to read this, and I would love to have you honor your brave loved ones by sharing their stories in the comment sections below. Let Memorial Day be personal! In gratitude, here’s a great potato salad recipe to enjoy with those steaks and burgers. Now go have some fun, but be safe.
Garlic Roasted Potato Salad

Garlic Roasted Potato Salad

This is my personal favorite potato salad, and a client classic. Since you are making real mayonnaise, please be careful to keep it refrigerated (don’t leave it sitting out in the sun). You can make it a day or two in advance, but please do not keep it longer than a few days, unless you freeze it.

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed with skins on (halved and quartered if necessary – should be bite size)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons + 1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley

DIRECTIONS:

1). Preheat oven to 425° F.

2). In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, garlic, Rosemary and 3 tablespoons olive oil well to coat evenly. Spread onto a sheet pan and season with salt and pepper generously to taste. Roast in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring midway, or until tender and nicely browned. Remove and cool completely.

3). In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, cayene (if using) and egg yolk. Continue whisking while you add the 1/4 cup olive oil in a slow steady stream until the mayonnaise emulsifies. Add the cooled potatoes, scallions and parsley, and toss until completely coated and dispersed. Adjust seasonings.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

Serve with any grilled protein of your choice.

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed with skins on (halved and quartered if necessary – should be bite size)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons + 1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley

DIRECTIONS:

1). Preheat oven to 425° F.

2). In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, garlic, Rosemary and 3 tablespoons olive oil well to coat evenly. Spread onto a sheet pan and season with salt and pepper generously to taste. Roast in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring midway, or until tender and nicely browned. Remove and cool completely.

3). In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, cayene (if using) and egg yolk. Continue whisking while you add the 1/4 cup olive oil in a slow steady stream until the mayonnaise emulsifies. Add the cooled potatoes, scallions and parsley, and toss until completely coated and dispersed. Adjust seasonings.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

Serve with any grilled protein of your choice.

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  • May 27, 2012
    3:51 pm

    So well written Julie Anne. What a powerful story and experience for you. Thank you for sharing this and thank you to the US armed forces and their families

    • May 27, 2012
      7:05 pm

      When is your remembrance day in Canada, Rachel? I certainly did not mean to exclude other countries – families everywhere have made enormous sacrifices for their countries.

      • May 27, 2012
        7:53 pm

        Ours is November 11th following when the first world war ended. It’s always a very somber day and people start wearing poppies on the first of November.

        I have to say, I have members of my family who have been killed in conflict (before my time) and have known family members who have returned with their own demons. I’m not sure which is worse, really. I don’t know about the US but in Canada there is a lot that could be done to address the issues of PTSD in returning troops which would not only assist them but their families.

  • May 27, 2012
    11:26 am

    My father and my brother served in the Italian army. In a corp which is a sort of equivalent to the Marines corp. I remember the vague fear that filled all the months when my dad was away, as a child. And the terrifyng feeling when in the 90s my brother was in Bosnia, in the ex-Jugoslavia campaign. Everytime I saw on TV those coffins descending from planes, covered by our national flag, with a beret on it, and a crushed family waiting for the last homecoming of their beloved one, I was astonished with grief, and – selfishly- thanked it was not our turn. My dad and my brother survived. But were left with some of the worst memories of their lives.

    • May 27, 2012
      6:57 pm

      Wow, that was a powerful and eloquent post Alessandra!

  • May 27, 2012
    1:25 pm

    I am incredibly fortunate that out of my father, all my uncles, and both grandfathers, all of whom saw active combat in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or the Gulf War, every single one of them came home, and none of them were permanently injured. Incredibly fortunate.

    We are a military family, going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. I am very proud of the sacrifices my family has made. My grandmothers, who stood behind their sons as they enlisted, then went away to fight. My grandmothers, mother, aunts and great-aunts who held down the forts at home alone as their husbands went off to front lines, doing multiple tours because of their expertise and abilities. I think about that every Memorial Day–and how insanely lucky we are that all our fathers, and uncles, and brothers, and husbands came home.

    And I am thankful for the families of soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

    • May 27, 2012
      7:02 pm

      Now I understand where that strength, spunk, and empathetic nature that your grandmother passed down to you came from. You DO have a lot to be proud of, and I’m proud to know you.

  • May 27, 2012
    8:43 pm

    I LOVE that you did this piece Jewels.

    Alan (my hubby) is a Canadian Vet (22 years retired Master Corporal in the Canadian Army) and one of the family members who have returned with their own demons that Rachel spoke of. He went with the UN to Rwanda back in 1994 just after the genocides and is still dealing with PTSD stemming from that. He saw more than anyone ever should in a brief six month tour. After about 13 years of therapy and medication I am now FINALLY seeing the man I married resurfacing and coming back to me.

    His Grandfather Kirkey was at Juno beach and ended up behind enemy lines in WWII. My own side of the family is also steeped rich in military history that I am very, very proud of.

    Thank you for being so proud of your boys…OUR boys…who fight to keep us ALL free.

    • May 29, 2012
      8:56 am

      Sometimes the worst scars of war are the ones that others can’t see or fathom. You are an amazing love story – standing by your man through his road to recovery from PTSD, and what a relief he is getting better. My worst nightmares couldn’t imagine witnessing what he has seen.

      Proud of the men AND WOMEN! Can women enlist in Canada?

      • May 29, 2012
        10:56 am

        Oh yes women too. When I put “our boys” it was kind of like the royal ‘we’. I meant everyone. LOL Sorry for the confusion. ;)

      • May 29, 2012
        9:46 am

        they can! no restrictions based on gender

  • May 28, 2012
    6:55 pm

    Wow! This was a powerful post that brought me to tears. So many have given so much for freedom.

  • May 29, 2012
    8:57 am

    … and I never gave it much thought before meeting the soldier on that plane. Making up for lost time with the respect now.

  • May 30, 2012
    8:28 am

    I had tears in my eyes the when you first put up this post, and it hit me just as hard reading it again. Even in our worst dreams, we can never imagine what these men and women see on a daily basis. PTSD takes them back to those horrors even when they are safely home. Peace of mind is something that they deserve and we need to ensure that all medical needs, physical and mental, are addressed when our wonderful military people finally get home.

  • May 27, 2013
    1:01 pm

    Spoken with true wisdom and understanding Ruthee! We do need to take better care of our vets.

  • May 28, 2013
    12:36 pm

    Like so many others, I’m grateful for the sacrifices of our soldiers and sailors. Several of my cousins are still serving; one plays the tuba for the Marines, but he still has to train! My grandfather joined the Navy in WWII and his ship–the USS Salt Lake City–was attacked in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands (near Alaska), leaving the heavy cruiser dead in the water and my grandfather with nothing but the shirt on his back. He was a wise man: he signed up for laundry duty on the ship where it was warm and where he could keep the change that sailors left in their pockets. He passed away at age 90.

    My great-uncle served in the army. He and his unit, the US 11th Armored Division, liberated the Nazi concentration camp of Mauthausen. Also, my uncle Bob (everyone’s got one!) was drafted by the Army just after he impregnated my aunt; he served as a gunner in Vietnam for a few years before his younger brother offered his service as a “swap” so Bob could meet his daughters.

    Needless to say, I am proud of the military heroes in my family.

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