While we DO love the extra day off, we must realize the true meaning of Memorial Day. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I.
Here are some events Monday in the Valley where you can be part of a REAL Memorial:
Flags for Our Fallen Memorial Day Rally: 6 a.m. In honor of those who lost their lives in battle, RidersUSA is hosting a rally, where all makes and models of cars and bikes line the road from the corner of Pinnacle Peak and Cave Creek roads to the Phoenix National Memorial Cemetery. Line up is from 6 to 6:30 a.m., followed by a salute at 8 a.m. A brunch is offered at Harold’s Corral. Phoenix National Cemetery, 23029 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix. $15 for brunch, rally is free. 602-379-4615. www.ridersusa.net
Phoenix Remembrance Ceremony: 9 a.m. Arizona historian Marshall Trimble is the keynote speaker at 27th annual Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony. Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, 1316 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix. Free. 602-262-6412. www.azhistcemeteries.org
Gilbert Observation: 9 a.m.-noon. The town honors Gilbert residents who have served in the military. Listen to music by the Ahwatukee Foothills Concert Band and speeches by Mayor John Lewis, and Councilmen Les Presmyk and John Sentz. Seating is limited, so lawn chairs are permitted. Gilbert Historical Museum, 10 S. Gilbert Road. Free. 480-926-1577. www.gilbertmuseum.com
Celebration: 4-8 p.m. This eighth annual event features the 150-member Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, who perform color guard, percussion and brass music in preparation for their summer tour. A barbecue featuring hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks for purchase is served in the shaded pavilion. Silent auctions and raffles are also held throughout the afternoon. Proceeds benefit the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps. Pera Club, 1 E. Continental Drive, Tempe. $8 at gate, $5 in advance. 480-734-7879. www.arizonaacademy.org
Ceremony: 7-8 p.m. American Legion Post 61 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 40 hold a sunset service that honors those who have served or are serving our country. Guest speakers and a presentation of the colors are also featured. Presented by the city of Avondale. Avondale Civic Center, 11465 W. Civic Center Drive. Free. 623-333-2400. www.ci.avondale.az.us
While you’re at it, please sign our “Thank You For Serving” virtual card. You can do so by clicking the logo above.