Happy Memorial Day in America! Although some people object to it being a happy occasion, given that the point of the day is to remember those military personnel who have passed away in service to this country, the day also kicks off the unofficial start of summer. Time for picnics, swimming, cookouts, and outdoor activities of all kinds. But I think that is one absolutely right way to honor our fallen veterans in addition to decorating their graves and flying the Stars and Stripes.
I believe that Martha Washington would have approved of the concept of honoring the fallen soldiers even though the first claims of an official Memorial Day didn’t occur until long after she died, actually about the time of the American Civil War. This is according to an account in America Celebrates! A Patchwork of Weird and Wonderful Holiday Lore by Hennig Cohen and Tristram Potter Coffin. Cohen and Coffin include an article by Ernest C. Klein which summarizes his research into trying to determine the origin of the holiday. He cites an astounding 25 different claims ranging from 1862 to 1868. But the concept of putting flowers on graves has been around a very long time so surely Martha wouldn’t find a reason to object.
Martha lived among the soldiers during the months that the army was in winter encampment. I say “among” as in the same camp although she obviously lived in a house with George, which also doubled as the location of his winter headquarters. With all she is reported to have done to ensure their welfare and comfort, from knitting socks to rolling bandages, surely she would have agreed to pay respect to those who died fighting for our freedoms. By the way, this fact of her involvement at winter camp was only one of the surprising things I learned about her in the course of researching her life and times to write Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel.
What is the best way to not only celebrate a holiday but also pay our respect to those who died for us? I believe that we honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for us by living our lives freely and openly all while thanking them for their bravery and service. My husband will be sure to put out the American flag and we’ll probably grill some ribs and have some potato salad and such. You know, typical American type of meal, or at least for my family! I am well aware that food is one very diverse way in which we all celebrate differently. Traditional foods we eat in the summer include anything grilled, corn on the cob, potato salad, sliced tomatoes and onions, and watermelon. Although I’d rather have a brownie, truth be told!
This week, both in honor of Memorial Day and Martha’s 290th birthday on June 2, I’ve discounted the ebook of Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel from its regular $4.99 to $2.99 (I would have made it $2.90 if I could have!). This is a limited time sale so get your copy today!
And if you haven’t joined my Facebook fan club, Betty’s Novel Ninjas, you may want to do that today as well because on June 2 I’ll be throwing a bit of a birthday party in the group. I’m celebrating her birthday and the one-year birthday of my novel, after all. And I’ve got some giveaways, fun games, live readings, and even some recipes to share with you all. Come join the fun! You don’t have to stay all day but pop in and out as you have a few minutes to spare.
Thanks for reading! Happy Memorial Day!
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Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.
Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.
But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.