Time to remember - Country Cousin

Shirley Prudhomme

Summer is finally here. Memorial Day weekend is coming up in a few days. The weather has been fantastic. Mosquitoes are biting, June bugs are flying, birds are singing and students graduating from high school and college are getting ready to spread their own wings and fly.

Our communities don’t seem to have the big parades that marked Memorial Day in years past, but on Monday, May 29, Americans all across our nation will be paying tribute to all the brave men and women who fought to keep our nation free, and giving particular honor to those who gave their lives to protect our nation.
We are asked to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers, attend services at local cemeteries, fly our flags at half mast until noon, and pause for one minute at 3. p.m. local time in a moment of silence honoring the fallen veterans and the freedoms they fought to preserve.

The Civil War was not even over yet in 1863 when what started as Decoration Day and has now become Memorial Day was started by a group of grieving mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, and others in Columbus, Miss. who were cleaning graves of their recently lost loved ones and placing flowers on them.
Those new graves were mostly occupied by Confederate soldiers who had been killed on the bitter battlefields of the Civil War, which did not end until 1865.
However, the grieving women at that cemetery in Mississippi noticed that nearby were neglected graves of Union soldiers, poorly marked, and overgrown with weeds. These Confederate women understood that somewhere, in communities to the north, families were mourning for these men, just as they grieved for the loss of their own. They set aside the hatreds that were tearing the nation apart, cleared the tangled brush and mud from those graves and laid flowers on them also.
Word spread quickly. Soon sentiment for a "Decoration Day" for the graves of fallen soldiers spread.
On May 5,1866, shortly after the Civil War was over, Henry Welles of Waterloo, New York, closed his drugstore and suggested that all other shops in town also close up for a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War, Union and Confederate alike, as a gesture of reconciliation in a nation sadly in need of healing.
By 1868, it became official. General Order No. 11, issued in May of 1868 by General John Logan, declared that May 30 should be, “...a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude --the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."

In a Decoration Day (Memorial Day) address given at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1905, the late Sen. Joseph Benson Foraker declared:
“This day belongs to our soldier dead; not of one war, but of all our wars; and particularly here, in this cemetery, where on these shafts and stones we read names that illumine so many periods of our history.
“But while it belongs to all who have at any time or place upheld the flag on land or on sea, yet it had its origin in the sorrow and gratitude that filled the heart of the Nation, as it emerged from the Civil War, stricken with grief, but crowned with glorious triumph.”


Heroic words. Good intentions. How easily we forget. Decoration Day became Memorial Day. The May 30 holiday was moved to the last Monday in May, and for many, Memorial Day became simply the final day of the first major 3-day weekend of summer.
Take some time on Monday to put a flag on the grave of a veteran and say a prayer for them, pause for that 3 p.m. moment of silence, thank a veteran in person, and attend a Memorial Day service if possible.
If you’d like to do something more, during Memorial Day Weekend, buy some carnations and walk through sections of cemeteries where servicemen are buried. When you find a grave with no sign of remembrance, leave a flower there and say a prayer for the person whose remains lie below.
We in this country owe a great debt of gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to live free. We can pay that debt to some small extent by not forgetting, but by remembering what they did and what they stood for, and by stopping the efforts of Socialist politicians to destroy the freedoms those brave veterans strove to protect.

Frosts should be done for the season, and if you’e going to have a garden, it’s time to get planting.
Many potted plant supply sources are offering special end of season sales. This is a good time to plant an herb garden. Or perhaps two herb gardens, one in an exceedingly sunny and perhaps sandy spot for heat-loving Mediterranean herbs like marjoram, rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme, another where partial shade shelters lush herbs like chives, cheveril and mint. Basil also seems to prefer the heavier soils and will tolerate a bit of shade. Most potted herbs come with growing instructions.
Incidentally, you need to use a firm hand with all types of mint. They tend to take over and wander off into other parts of the garden where they are not welcome.
To do a nice herb garden plan dividers between varieties, preferably dividers that are pounded into the ground. You want ease of harvest, and you don’t want the roots of aggressive herbs strangling those of their weaker brethren.
Some of the prettiest herb gardens are laid out in a wagon-wheel format, with perhaps a large pot of parsley at the center and an assortment of other herbs radiating out.
The culinary rewards of freshly harvested herbs are invaluable, and most varieties can be either potted and taken indoors for the winter, dried for winter use, or frozen.
Get brave. Check out the plants available and try some you’ve never tasted before. There are so many to choose from. Your taste buds will thank you.

World traveler Stanley Sieja of Wausaukee left on his final and greatest journey on May 22, 2023, and has almost certainly already arrived at his destination.
Stanley was born and raised on the Sieja family farm east of Wausaukee that continued to be his home during the 75 years he spent on this Earth. He worked as a farmer and crop duster, but responded to a religious calling that he felt required him to travel the world, which he did three times - once by sea, on a 26’ one-man sail boat; once by air, in his little 2-seater 1946 Piper Cub crop duster airplane, and once partly by sea, but mainly on land on his motorcycle, in the jeep that he called Nellie, and finally on foot. All of his trips were solo, and all were self-financed.
He probably could have made a fortune had he solicited sponsors for his travels in advance, but instead he paid for his trips himself, mostly with money he saved from working as a crop duster,  and sometimes by stopping along the way to earn enough money to continue on to wherever his journey was taking him. He never knew for sure, except that he was hoping to eventually reach home again.
Stanley was the the bravest, most unique and most deeply religious individual I have ever had the privilege to meet, and he was kind enough to share his story with readers of The Peshtigo Times in a series of articles that were published in 2008, after he came home from what turned out to be his final around-the-world travel adventure.
Sieja graduated from Wausaukee High School in 1965 and learned to fly after enlisting in the Marine Corps when the war was raging in Viet Nam. He always intended to come home, get married, raise a family and run the Sieja farm. He did finally get to run the farm, but he never married.
Wrote this about him in the first article of a series, “The Sieja Saga”:
“Take the determination of Christopher Columbus, the curiosity of Marco Polo, the daring of Charles Lindberg and wrap it up in a Wausaukee farm boy. You might get Stanley Sieja, Jr.”
“If Sieja had a press agent, or at least a flair for publicity, his photo would probably be on the cover of National Geographic. But no, he's a quiet man who does his thing without fanfare and downplays the things he's done. When Sieja is at home, he helps care for his ailing mother and the family farm and spends most of his free time volunteering for Knights of Columbus, St. Augustine Church in Wausaukee and St. Agnes Church in Amberg.
“Many of his friends and neighbors know he’d traveled a bit, but few knew the extent of his journeys or the tremendous courage and stamina it took to accomplish them.
“He may well be the only man in history who has traveled around the world - solo - by land, air and sea. That might not be so remarkable, except that Sieja speaks no foreign languages. He traveled without professional assistance and without a pre-arranged plan, exploring as he went. Much of the time he had no means of communication with the rest of humanity.
“Fighting was in progress in some of the Middle Eastern countries he walked and drove through on his last journey, which ended just a few months ago. There was no means of researching travel conditions, Sieja said, because western tourists hadn't visited some of those places in years, if ever.
“In many of the places he visited there were no embassies, no advocates, and no great love for Christians. Again, for much of the time, there was no means of communicating with friends in America.
‘But he made it home alive, despite some very serious doubts along the way.”
Stanley said he always felt God intended him to be where he was sent, for reasons that he did not understand.
Now he has taken his final journey, to the destination he always intended reach some day. Am confident that trip ended with a happy landing and a glorious homecoming!
Hope to be there myself, one day.

Time for campfire cookouts, feasting on fresh asparagus and rhubarb, and soon strawberry season will be upon us. Green onions are already being pulled in some gardens and other bounty isn’t far behind. And the beauty part is, there’s still time to plant almost everything.

If your Memorial Day weekend plans include camping, you may want to try doing these Campfire Omelets. Very portable, and no utensils to wash. Just prepare your fillings before you leave home, and shortly before breakfast time let each person put their own personal omelet together. (Younger kids, of course, will need help.) You’ll need tongs, a kettle big enough to hold all of the filled baggies, and enough water to cover them. For each person you’ll need:
1 permanent marker
1 quart size Ziploc freezer baggie (freezer style bag is important)
2 eggs
1/4 cup shredded or cubed cheese, your choice (American, cheddar, etc.)
1/4 cup meat, your choice (ham, cooked bacon, etc.)
1/4 cup diced, sliced or shredded veggies, cooked or raw (onions, green or red peppers, hash browns, etc.)
1/4 cup sauce or salsa (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Write your name with the permanent marker on your quart freezer Ziploc bag. Start a pot or dutch oven of boiling water on your stove or campfire. Crack two eggs into your baggie. Seal the zipper. Mix and mash your eggs until blended well. Open it and add your own special ingredients (cheese, meat, veggies, sauce, salsa, etc.) to your omelet mix. (I even heard of a youngster who liked to add slightly crushed Cheezit crackers.) You can add salt and pepper at this point, or you can add it later. Close the baggie again and mix everything very well by sort of squishing it around. Open a corner slightly. Holding the bag upright, squeeze all air out. Then seal the bag again, and be sure it’s sealed completely. Place the bags upright in the pot or Dutch oven of boiling water for 13 minutes exactly. Do not cover. Remember to time it. You can usually fit up to 8 omelets in one pot. Use tongs to keep the bags upright and side by side. When the 13 minutes are up, carefully use the tongs to remove the steaming bags to a heat safe dish. Let cool just a minute or two, then carefully cut the tops off of the bags, one at a time. Holding the bottom corners, tip the bag so the omelet slides right out of the bag and onto your plate! (You may need hot pads for this step.) Add any salt, pepper, butter, condiments, sauces, etc. to the top of your omelet and enjoy!

Wonderful with burgers or brats hot off the grill.
6 medium potatoes
6 slices bacon, preferably nice and meaty
1/4 cup bacon drippings
3/4 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Scrub potatoes and put them into a 4-quart saucepan. (Or peel them first. Your call) Add a tablespoon or so of salt and enough water just to cover. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer covered, 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the potato water. Let the potatoes cool slightly. While they cool, cook bacon over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Pour excess bacon drippings from skillet and reserve 1/4 cup. Try to keep the brown cracklings, if any, in the skillet, and return the quarter cup of bacon grease. Turn heat back on, add the onions and cook a minute or two. Taste the potato water to be sure it isn’t too salty, and if it is, replace part of it with plain water. Stir the flour, sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper into the onions and bacon drippings, and then all at once add the water. Stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, until it boils and thickens. Stir in the vinegar and mustard. Cut up the bacon and add it. Let simmer a minute or two. Peel the potatoes and slice them. It’s best if they are still a bit warm. Pour the sauce over the sliced potatoes and stir, or add the potatoes to the skillet and stir. Stir in the parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, until thoroughly heated. (Salads of this sort are usually best made the day before and heated again before serving. Gets the flavor through the potatoes better.)

Luscious custard-style filling. Great pot luck or picnic offering.
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups rhubarb, coarsely chopped or sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour and sugar and then cut in butter until crumbs form. Press into the bottom of a jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove the crust, but leave the oven on. While the crust bakes, beat together eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Fold in the rhubarb and spread over the crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, again at 350 degrees. Cool and cut into squares. Cover leftovers and refrigerate.

Thought for the Week:
"It is the Soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us Freedom of the Press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us Freedom of Speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial;
And it is the Soldier--who salutes the flag,
Who serves the flag, and
Whose coffin is draped by the flag--
Who allows the protester to burn the flag."
Poem by Charles M. Province.

Let us all offer a heartfelt “thank you” to all the men and women who have so bravely fought for freedom since America became a nation, and extend heartfelt sympathy to all those who watched their loved ones go off to war and never got to see them come home again.

(This column is written by Shirley Prudhomme of Crivitz. Views expressed are her own and are in no way intended to be an official statement of the opinions of Peshtigo Times editors and publishers. She may be contacted by phone at 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)



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