Memorial Day 5 (copy)

A photo from last year’s Memorial Day ceremony at Heritage Park in Wayzata.

WAYZATA — Memorial Day weekend is often celebrated as the start to summer, but the reason for the long weekend is for people to honor those who died serving the United States.

Events to commemorate Memorial Day will be held across state this weekend, including in the Lake Minnetonka area.

Plymouth

Plymouth will commemorate Memorial Day starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 24, at the Plymouth Veterans Memorial near Plymouth City Hall, 3400 Plymouth Blvd.

The service will honor and remember those who served in the armed forces, with retired Col. Terry W. Branham, who served in Vietnam, the Drug War and Desert Storm, serving as the speaker.

The program will also feature a welcome message from Plymouth Mayor Jeff Wosje, posting of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance from the VFW Post 5903 Color Guard and an invocation from Lt. Col. Dan J. Pulju, chaplin in the U.S. Air Force 133 AW Wing.

Two local students will sing during the event. Oliver Foreman, a senior at Armstrong High School and future member of the Naval ROTC at Loyola University will perform “America the Beautiful” and Erin Anderson, a junior at Wayzata High School, will perform “In Flanders Fields”

The event is put on by Plymouth Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Heinzen-Ditter VFW Post 5903, Plymouth Lions, Plymouth Police Explorers, Armstrong High School, Wayzata High School and the city of Plymouth, according to the city’s website.

Wayzata

The Wayzata American Legion, Ernest Aselton Post 118 will hold various events in Wayzata and Plymouth on Memorial Day. The schedule is:

  • 8:30 a.m. at Parkers Lake Cemetery in Plymouth
  • 9:15 a.m. at Greenlawn Cemetery in Wayzata
  • 9:45 a.m. at Old Wayzata Cemetery in Wayzata
  • 10:30 a.m. at Summit Hill Cemetery in Wayzata
  • 11:30 a.m. at Heritage Park in Wayzata

Wayzata Mayor Ken Willcox will be the speaker at the commemorations at Summit Park Cemetery and Heritage Park, the city of Wayzata’s website says. There will be a brief program featuring the Wayzata American Legion honor guard ceremony with rifle salute and taps at each location.

For more information on the events, contact the Wayzata American Legion at 952-473-7678.

Excelsior 

The Excelsior American Legion Clarence Clofer Post 259 will mark Memorial Day with a tour around the area that ends with a social gathering back at the American Legion post. The schedule is as follows: 

  • 6:30 a.m. meet at the club — the bus departs at 7  a.m.
  • 7:30 a.m. at Woodside Cemetery
  • 8 a.m. at Resurrection Cemetery
  • 9 a.m. at Groveland Cemetery
  • 10 a.m. at Excelsior Elementary School
  • 11 a.m. parade to Oak Hill Cemetery
  • 11:30 a.m. Oak Hill Cemetery

Long Lake

Activities to commemorate Memorial Day will be held Monday in Long Lake. The schedule is:  

  • 9:15 a.m. at Union Cemetery
  • 10:15 a.m. at St. George's Cemetery 
  • 11:15 a.m. program begins at Long Lake Veterans Memorial in Nelson Lakeside Park. Light refreshments will be available starting at 10:45 a.m. 

Hamel

The Hamel American Legion, John Pohlker Post 394 will be honoring fallen veterans on Memorial Day at several locations in the area. The schedule is:

  • 8:45 a.m. at Holy Name Cemetery in Medina
  • 9:15 a.m. at St. Anne’s Cemetery in Hamel
  • 9:45 a.m. at St. Thomas Cemetery in Corcoran
  • 10 a.m. at St. Jeanne Cemetery in Corcoran
  • 10:20 a.m. at Old St. Thomas Cemetery in Corcoran
  • 10:45 a.m. at St. Patrick Cemetery in Maple Grove
  • 11:15 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Plymouth
  • 11:45 a.m. at German Liberal Cemetery in Medina

More information can be found on the Hamel American Legion’s Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/events/2341050432808385/.

Eden Prairie 

Eden Prairie's Memorial Day event will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Eden Prairie Veterans Memorial in Purgatory Creek Park, 13001 Technology Drive.

The event will honor three local veterans, some of whom have ties to the Lake Minnetonka area:

  • Jim McDougall, 95, of Minnetonka, will be the guest speaker at the event. He was a combat aircrewman for the 7th Fleet’s Black Cat Squadron VPB-52 in the South Pacific during World War II. 
  • Art Peterson was a dog handler in the Vietnam War. He lived in Chaska before moving to Eden Prairie in 2012, and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5919 in Excelsior.
  • Lou Ellingston, of Eden Prairie, was a swift boat captain for the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War. 

Origin of Memorial Day

Memorial Day wasn’t a national holiday until 1971, when an act of Congress made it the official day to honor fallen service members, and placed the holiday on the last day in May.

The origin of the holiday dates back to right after the Civil War. On May 5, 1868 — three years after the Civil War ended — the head of the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day (what is now called Memorial Day), the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website says. It was a time for people in the United States to decorate the graves of those who died in the Civil War with flowers.

It wasn’t until after World War 1 that Memorial Day was expanded to honor all service members who fought for their country in American wars, not just the Civil War, the website notes.

Melissa Turtinen is the multimedia reporter for Lakeshore Weekly News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.

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