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Twin Cities Offers Wide Array of Memorial Day Events

For nearly 150 years, Americans have gathered in late spring to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in service to their country. This Memorial Day weekend many local destinations commemorate this day of remembrance.

Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic who said the day was, designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. Originally called Decoration Day, it was observed on May 30 with General Logan noting that it would not mark the anniversary of any particular battle.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. Renamed Memorial Day in 1971, it was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress and was placed on the last Monday in May. This helped ensure a three-day weekend for Federal holidays.
More than 20 towns claim to be the holiday’s birthplace. Here’s a list of events in and around the Twin Cities where you can pay tribute to our Nation’s fallen heroes.
Afton: 11:15 a.m. Monday at Evergreen Community Cemetery, just west of Memorial Lutheran Church on County Road 18. Hudson VFW Post 2115 honor guard, vocal music by MaryLou Clymer, speech by the Rev. Bob Kleinke and recitations by Afton-Lakeland Elementary students.
Bayport: American Legion parade beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday at Minnesota 95 and Central Avenue and proceeding north on Minnesota 95, west on Seventh Avenue, south on Fifth Street and west on Fifth Avenue to Hazelwood Cemetery, where there will be a memorial ceremony with music by the Stillwater Area High School Band. Parade grand marshals will be brothers Jim, Ralph and Warren Utecht, ages 87, 85 and 83, respectively, who are veterans and grew up in Bayport.
Cottage Grove: 1 p.m. Monday at the Veterans Memorial outside City Hall, 12800 Ravine Parkway S. Speech by Washington County Commissioner Karla Bigham, music by the Park High School Choir and Brass Quintet.
Forest Lake: 9 a.m. Monday at Lakeside Memorial Park, 56 E. Broadway Ave. Speakers, rifle salute, dedication of new pavers for Veterans Memorial.
Fort Snelling: Prayer Vigil for Peace from 8:30 a.m. Saturday to 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Fort Snelling Veterans Memorial Chapel, 1 Tower Ave. People are welcome to light candles for the Memorial Garden, where 343 white crosses represent casualties of the Global War on Terrorism. The chapel sanctuary will be open for prayer. 952-888-1525 or [email protected].
Fort Snelling: Non-denominational Christian worship service, 11 a.m. Sunday at Fort Snelling Veterans Memorial Chapel, 1 Tower Ave. Sermon by U.S. Army chaplain Col. Kenneth Beale Jr., retired. Worshippers will be invited to silently visit the Memorial Garden to place poppies at the crosses. 952-888-1525 or [email protected]
Fort Snelling National Cemetery: Parade at 9:30 a.m. Monday, followed by program at 10 a.m. featuring music, speakers, display of military vehicles. 7601 34th Ave. S. 612-726-1127.
Hastings: 9 a.m. Monday at the Minnesota Veterans Home, 1200 E. 18th St.
Historic Fort Snelling: Opening weekend for 2015 includes special events from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Monday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. On Monday, events will include a living timeline of military life and weapons demonstrations. Admission $6-$11, free for veterans on Monday. 612-726-1171 or
Maplewood: 10 a.m. Monday at Union Cemetery, 2505 E. Minnehaha Ave. Guest speaker the Rev. William Baer of Transfiguration Catholic Church, Oakdale. Living cross presentation by the Msgr. Ravoux Assembly, Knights of Columbus.
Mendota Heights: 10 a.m. Monday at Resurrection Cemetery, 2101 S. Lexington Ave. Mass and address by the Rev. Harry Flynn, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Minneapolis: 10:30 a.m. Monday with gospel quartet led by Robert Robinson and keynote address from James Fischer, president of the Minnesota State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, at Lakewood Cemetery, Hennepin Avenue South and 36th Street. Walking tours, trolley tours, classical music concerts, horse-and-carriage rides, streetcar rides at various times during the day.
Minneapolis: 1:30 p.m. Monday in Building 19 of the Minnesota Veterans Home, 5101 Minnehaha Ave. S. Musical prelude by the Minnesota Police Pipe Band and speech by Army National Guard chaplain Col. John Morris.
River Falls, Wis.: River Falls American Legion Post 121 will present an honor guard salute Monday at 7 a.m. at Kinnickinnic Cemetery; 7:30 a.m. at Mann Valley Cemetery; 8 a.m. at Glass Valley Cemetery; 8:20 a.m. at Cherma Cemetery; and 9 a.m. at St. Bridget Cemetery. A program will begin at 10 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial at Greenwood Cemetery, featuring speaker Air Force Sgt. Pete DeSancitus, retired. Lunch will follow at the Legion post.
St. Paul: 9 a.m. Monday at Elmhurst Cemetery, 1510 N. Dale St. Speech by Maj. Chris Fields, U.S. Marine Corps, retired. Cretin-Derham Hall JROTC Rifle Squad.
St. Paul: 11 a.m. Monday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, 1800 Edgerton St. Music, presentation of wreaths. Lunch following program at Arcade-Phalen American Legion Post 577, 1129 Arcade St.
St. Paul: 10 a.m. Monday at Riverview Cemetery, 340 E. Annapolis St. Address by Philip Ewerdt, U.S. Army 13B Cannon crew member. Music and readings by students from St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul.
St. Paul: Memorial Day music on Monday featuring the Roseville Community Band with a 21-gun salute at 3 p.m., the Minneapolis Southside Singers at 5 p.m., and the The Vallee de Croix Chorus, a four-part a cappella chorus based in Stillwater, at 7 p.m. Como Park Pavilion, 1360 N. Lexington Parkway.
South St. Paul: Parade beginning at 9:30 a.m. Monday at Sixth and Marie avenues, east to Fifth Avenue, then south to Southview Boulevard and ending at Oak Hill Cemetery, 15th Avenue North and Marie Avenue. Memorial service at 10:15 a.m. at the cemetery. Grand marshal will be Hank Rollins, a Korean War veteran and the chaplain for VFW Post 295. The parade is being organized by the VFW post and American Legion Post 481.
State Capitol Grounds: 1 p.m. Monday at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Guest speaker Col. Rodney Gerdes, U.S. Marine Corps, retired.
State Capitol Grounds: 9:30 a.m. Monday by Veterans for Peace at the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Stillwater: Ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at the Stillwater Veterans Memorial, Third and Pine streets. Address by U.S. Navy Capt. David Ratte, retired, plus music, a flyover and a rifle salute.
Woodbury: 11 a.m. Monday at the City Hall Campus, Valley Creek Road and Radio Drive. Address by Cmdr. Greg Schlichting, Woodbury’s fire commander, who served more than 25 years in the Navy as an active duty and reserve officer.
Sources:,, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, St. Paul Pioneer Press

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