Day 24 of the 30 Day COVID-19 Dinner Challenge: 4th of July American Fare


Dedicated to my uncle, Joseph Duffy, a Marine who served in the Korean War. I owe my deep sense of patriotism to Uncle Joe. 

July 4, 2020 ~ Like many Americans I love the 4th of July. When I was a kid my Uncle Joe used to take us to a parade. It started at a fire department in Dix Hills on Deer Park Ave just north of the Northern State Parkway. Those of us who wanted to go piled in his station wagon.

My Uncle Joe married my mother’s sister, Mary. They met when they were teenagers in Brooklyn. Uncle Joe’s family was like my dad’s, poor, and moved often. Like my dad, he adored my mom’s family especially my grandma. Gram was a non-judgemental, loving woman. Joe, and my dad, John, found grounding and kindness beyond measure with Gram.

Uncle Joe was a reservist in the United States Marine Corps. When the U.S. began sending the military to Korea he was called up to go. He was of the few who were shipped out before they even made it to boot camp. The young man from Brooklyn, who had never traveled before or knew how to use a rifle, was on a train heading toward the West Coast so fast it would make many of us weak in the knees. He became a Marine on that train, learned how to be a rifleman, and wrote to his mother and Mary. In Korea, he was part of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign: 

My earliest memories of the 4th of July was walking over to Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe’s to go to the parade. Uncle Joe got revved up for the parade by listening to big band, parade music. I would hear it coming from the living room window.  Their only daughter, Jean, and I would go to the parade with the little kids in the family. Our moms, Mary and Carol, the sisters, lived next door to one another on Long Island. Between them, there were nine children, four in my family and five in theirs. Jean and I each have two older brothers. I have a younger sister and she has two younger brothers, they were the ‘little’ kids. Jean, me, and the little kids piled into Uncle Joe’s station wagon. We always took the rear-facing seat in the back or way back as we use to say. It was my introduction to patriotism. It stuck with me for life. I felt special all of my life because he was my godfather and took me to parades.

Uncle Joe did not talk much about being in the war or being a Marine. He carried them both with him like another layer of skin.

It never escapes me the sacrifices Uncle Joe made and my son, Sean. Sean has been on five combat deployments. He is infantry. I can’t even begin to fathom what it is to be in the hell of war.

When we celebrate the 4th of July in our family we do so in honor of all of those who have served our great country, therefore, we serve up American food on this holiday: hamburgers, corn on the cob, roasted red potatoes with minced garlic, and ice cream for dessert. No calories were accounted for. We were on holiday.

The roasted red potatoes is a recipe given to me by my beautiful friend, Madge:

  • cut up small red potatoes, a whole bag is what I used
  • melt 2 tablespoons of butter with minced garlic to taste
  • drizzle the melted butter over the potatoes in a baking pan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cook for about 45 minutes at 450 degrees, at the end I broiled them to give them a nice brown top

The corn:

I trimmed the tops of the husks, and took off the old, outer layers of the husks, soaked them in water for about a half an hour, and cooked them on the grill. I put them on one side of the grill while the burgers were cooking on the other side. Burgers and corn cooked for about 16 minutes or so.

Until the next time!