Burger Toppings

Yesterday, I finally assembled the little charcoal grill that I purchased at an end of season sale last year at 75% off.  I didn’t want something big and cumbersome just a little tabletop number to get the job done.  The box advertised “Assembly Required” so I bought it based on the grill manufacturer’s honesty.  The box didn’t scream “Easy to Assemble” or “Comes together in minutes”.  Nope, the subtext said it straight, “You are going to have to put this sucker together.”  After herding the nuts and bolts, tearing the house apart looking for a Phillips-head screwdriver (by the way, who was Phillips?), and telling my stomach to calm down (let’s just say hungry equaled understatement, this little gem came together beautifully.  No bolts, nuts, or washers left over (I never did buy that “They pack extra in case you lose one.” theory).

With my appetizer salad in hand I sat down to catch up on email and read Facebook.  My feed showed many, many Memorial Day messages, some tender, some a little cranky.  One in particular reminded the masses that “Memorial Day doesn’t mean National BBQ Day”.  “Oh, oh,” I thought, what about my shiny little beauty waiting for me in the yard?” Now, military genes run in my family and as a former soldier myself, the guilt crept in as I mulled over the quandary.  Suddenly, the whole notion of a burger on the grill felt sacrilegious and disrespectful.  Maybe I should just stop at the salad and call it a day.  “Oh, man, this is not good.”

Shaking off the guilt I found myself looking at the grill.  Should I light it or not?  Decision made.  I laid the charcoal in the grill bowl and set a match to it (after placing the hose next to the grill in case things went horribly wrong).  As the coals began to glow from flame to ash with a soft red glow I thought of the brave soldiers who fought in the Revolution, the Argonne, Vietnam, and Antietam who crouched over a fire for warmth, for food, or for sterilizing medical equipment to save a soldier.  No doubt that from that warmth sprang a reason to continue to fight.  A fierce determination that the sacrifice would be worth it in the end.  That the fire from bullets and bombs could and had lead to death.  What would they think of me now?  Would they curse my burger?  Would they curse me for being so casual… for not being more solemn?  The burger sizzled.

A quick flip onto a burger bun and I was ready to tuck into the first bite.  “Nope, these fallen soldiers would not curse or blame me at all for eating a burger on this Memorial Day.”  They gave it all, so we could have it all.  And for their sacrifice, this burger’s topped with my profound thanks and gratitude.

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