The last Monday of May is Memorial Day, our holiday for honoring those who have died while serving in the military. And, as the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, it’s also a long weekend of picnics and cookouts, BBQ, and parades. If you happen to be in the area for Memorial Day in Scottsdale, there are plenty of ways to honor our military while enjoying great food and the start of summer. Here are a few suggestions.

Cemeteries

Many cemeteries have ceremonies for the veterans who are buried in their plots. The National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona is just a short drive away in Phoenix, and each Memorial Day weekend, with assistance from volunteers, they put small American flags on each gravesite. Walking through the cemetery, through all these colorful flags is a sobering reminder of just how many have died to protect our freedoms over the years. The cemetery has two unique memorials – the Eternal Flame and the WWII Submarine Torpedo Monument – and at least five Navajo Code Talkers are buried here. Get more out of your visit, and volunteer to help place flags on the graves. The National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona is located at 23029 N. Cave Creek Road in Phoenix.

Get a little history with your cemetery visit – attend the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park’s Memorial Day Scottsdale Ceremony. After the ceremony, you can tour the Smurthwaite House (one of the oldest structures in Phoenix) and any or all of the seven historic cemeteries making up this cemetery block. Several famous Phoenix residents as well as veterans from the Spanish-American War and the Civil War are interred here. The Pioneer and Military Memorial Park is located at 1317 W. Jefferson Street in Phoenix.

Activities

If you are looking for an activity to honor our veterans, try a 5K run. Virtual Run Events is sponsoring a one-mile, 5K and 10K race in Scottsdale with 15% (minimum) of each registration fee going to Operation Gratitude (an organization that focuses on lifting the spirits and meeting the needs of the US Military and First Responder communities). This is a virtual race – you can run, jog, or walk on the sidewalk, on trails or treadmills – you run/walk your own race at your own pace.

Flags for Our Fallen Memorial Day Weekend Scottsdale Rally draws over 200 bikers from around the country. These bikers line Cave Creek Road, the entrance to the National Cemetery in Phoenix, with over 500 American Flags. You can attend the weekend festivities, (bikers and BBQ!), or just the Monday ceremonies. This event is free, but you can sponsor flags for your veterans.

Just 35 minutes from Scottsdale, at Apache Junction High School (2525 Ironwood Drive) in historic Apache Junction, you can enjoy a picnic lunch while you watch several performances by the Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts. Don’t miss the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps! You can purchase your tickets (for the performance and picnic) online.

Remembrance During Memorial Day in Scottsdale

Whatever you decide to do, where ever you are, you can participate in the National Moment of Remembrance – 3pm local time on Memorial Day weekend in Scottsdale– pause for a minute of silence to honor and remember our veterans. We won’t forget them.

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