Memorial Day in San Jose is better with tea.

view of Golden Gate National Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2011. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

San Jose-area residents are largely unaware of California’s individual contribution to the Civil War, World War 2, and think of Memorial Day as simply the kick-off to summer funMemorial Day was introduced in the 1870s to honor all those who were lost in the Civil War, and to help re-unite the nation by honoring both Union and Confederate soldiers.  It has since been expanded into a holiday for honoring all U.S. soldiers, dead or alive.  While the main conflicts of the Civil War occurred far away from San Jose, California did see local skirmishes between Union and Confederate sympathizers.  The Union received large donations of California gold, which greatly supported the war effort.  California’s brand-new state legislature also sent multiple companies of men to serve in the Union army; most ended up replacing more experienced soldiers stationed at army forts in the Northwest and Southwest, but a few companies saw action on the front lines by joining up with the Pennsylvania and other Northern states’ militias.  San Jose’s Oak Hill cemetery has its own collection of local Civil War heroes, but since all veterans are honored on Memorial Day, all local cemeteries will be decorated with American flags for the holiday.

Since tea parties are perfect settings for conversation, reminiscing, and honoring tradition, why not get together with family and friends on Sunday or Monday to remember and honor any veterans you know?  Add tea to your barbecue at home or at a local park or public garden.  Iced tea is a great addition to the traditional Memorial Day – the beginning of a long season of outdoor cooking and entertaining in the Santa Clara Valley – but hot tea might be just as welcome during this windy and cool holiday! Black tea pairs well with many traditional summer foods, like barbecued meat and grilled vegetables.  Don’t forget the green tea ice cream and the iced chai!  American beer fans can enjoy tea, as they do in the U.K.

There are lots of other things to celebrate and enjoy on Memorial Day weekend in San Jose, as well.  Bring a Steampunk tea picnic to San Jose’s Doubletree Hotel for the Clockwork Academy conference that runs through Monday.  Visit Roaring Camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains for their annual Civil War reenactment.  When we celebrate Memorial Day, we tell our brave veterans that their sacrifice is valuable and appreciated.  Pull out some things from your tea party pantry and put together a picnic or barbecue to thank them all for our freedom!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:
“Have a 1940s style tea party”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Celebrate the Fourth of July with a tea party picnic!”
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Barbecue with tea for Labor Day”
“Greet the summer in San Jose with iced tea during Iced Tea Month”
“Now is the time for garden parties and picnics in San Jose”
“Take your tea into one of San Jose’s gardens”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“How to incorporate tea into your Super Bowl party”
“Bring a ‘steampunk’ tea to Santa Clara’s Steampunk Exhibition”
“Memorial Day in San Jose calls for iced tea”
“Review of Haagen-Dazs Green Tea ice cream”
“Going back to school in San Jose? Ease into it with a tea picnic on the beach”
“5 teas for San Jose’s beer fans”

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