May 30—ANDERSON — Landy Mendoza said this Memorial Day is a little more special than previous years for her and her family.
"It's like a welcome back to normal life gathering, at least close to what was normal life," she said.
Mendoza, 28, of Anderson said her parents, siblings and extended family gather every Memorial Day weekend to spend time together and on Monday they plan to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for American freedoms.
"No one in our family has ever served, but we appreciate everyone else who has made that choice because we are all benefiting from it and we are grateful for that," she said.
The family likes to camp at Mounds State Park over the holiday weekend, but this year the campground was full, so they opted for a large cookout next to a playground.
"We brought the tent for the kids," Mendoza said with a laugh. She said altogether there are 20 people in her immediate family.
Her mother, Norma Rodriguez, 50, grilled multicolored peppers on the grill before blending them in a blender plugged into a portable generator Martin Mendoza, 49, set up under a table.
Vanessa Garza, 16, said it was nice to celebrate the holiday with friends and family again.
"The best part is all the food," she said.
Landy Mendoza said it was nice to return to a family tradition.
"We have camped and cooked out every year except last year — it was very sad," she said.
Donald King, 66, of Indianapolis served in the Army for 20 years. He said while Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who died for their country, this year he can spend the holiday with his friends again.
Sharon Lewis, 55, of Brownstown said last year they had reservations to go camping, but all of the public parks were closed down due to COVID-19 restrictions and she cancelled the reservation the day before it was announced the parks would reopen.
Mark Hardy, 60, of North Vernon, was one of the five people camping with King. He said they have camped together as a group for about 10 or 15 years.
"We don't starve, either," said Jim Lewis, 53 of Brownstown.
The women laughed as the men began to recount the stews, ribs and other food they like to enjoy while they camp.
"We eat better when we are camping," Hardy said, causing everyone to laugh.
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