Friday BBQ Spotify 5/24/13
Ahh, it’s here . . . finally. After months of slogging through wet snow, dry snow, sideways rain, upside down sleet, and you-name-it all kinds of crazy spring weather, summer is right around the corner. Barbecue’s prime season. Driving vacations. Hot days at the baseball stadium, and warm evenings in the back yard. Sunset at the beach without needing a coat. (Well, except here in Northern California.) And as usual, the Memorial Day weekend kicks it all off. We Americans are a ritual lot. We time our seasons and activities by the holidays that frame them, sometimes without enough thought to the underlying reasons for the holidays themselves. But for this opening summer-season weekend especially, we shouldn’t think about Memorial Day as just a good excuse to put garden equipment, bikinis, or plastic dinnerware on sale at rock-bottom prices. No matter whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, arch-conservative or screaming liberal, or simply a hawk or a dove, most likely you knew or at least knew of someone close to you who paid the ultimate price to defend your right to a life of freedom.
One of the most touching things I see every year is the practice of placing American flags at the grave markers in Arlington Cemetery in Washington and at the Golden Gate National Cemetery right here just south of San Francisco, and seeing the servicemen and servicewomen stop to salute each one or lay a kiss on a headstone. A simple acknowledgement of “I might not know you, but I value you and what you did for me, and for all of us.” This person didn’t care if I looked like him or her, or if I liked the same food or baseball team. Or cared about baseball at all. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite summer anthems with you to kick off the season, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with Memorial Day, and barely few have anything political to say at all. But anchor both ends with a tongue-in-cheek look at the holiday from James McMurtry, and a poignant piece from Linda Ronstadt about the fear of dying young. The rest are all about just having fun and feeling good to be alive. I like to imagine that every departed veteran would say that’s what it’s all about. Being able to have a free life – one in which you have the right to be anything you want to be, or simply think the way you want to think. And most importantly, have the freedom to enjoy yourself and those around you. So maybe give a thought to setting out an empty chair at Monday’s barbecue, clambake, wine party, or luau. Look at that chair every once and a while on that day and imagine what that person might have to say if they were sharing a meal with you or watching your kids play with the garden hose. Ultimately, have a wonderful time on Memorial Day. That’s what they would want you to do. And never ever forget what they did for you.