Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember our veterans and honor them with parades, patriotic music, graveside memorial ceremonies, and lots of red, white, and blue. It’s also the kickoff for summer, a long weekend full of cookouts, picnics, and lots of outdoor fun. Luckily, you’ve made it to Oregon where you can do it all! And if you want this weekend to be an unforgettable experience stay in one of our beautiful vacation rentals in Oregon.
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Traditional Statewide Observances
While flags across the nation fly at half-staff, lone trumpets play taps and 21-gun salutes shatter the quiet. National military cemeteries like Portland/Willamette National and Roseberg National, state military cemeteries (in Warrenton), public cemeteries in Astoria, Oregon City, Pendleton, and Redmond, and private cemeteries in Bend and Salem will be putting American flags on veteran’s graves, having flag-raising memorial services, and more. If you’re anywhere near the Willamette National Cemetery, you should make the trip. Over 140,000 American flags are set on the graves of the Veterans resting there is a truly moving sight.
Public parks with state war memorials – Korean War in Wilsonville, Vietnam War in Portland, Afghan-Iraqi War in Salem, and the new Veterans Memorial in North Plains – will be participating as well with the laying of wreaths, gun or canon salutes, and maybe a military fly-over. Many cities around the state, including Reedsport, Warrenton, and Prineville, have long traditions of parades through their downtowns, filled with marching bands and more. These smaller, local parades are a lot of fun for the entire family.
Head to Klamath Falls for the day. Start things off early with the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ sunrise service at Klamath Memorial Park. After the last notes of tape fade away, stop at the American Legion for a free breakfast, then watch the parade – be sure to bring a bag to collect the candy the veterans will be throwing.
Virtual Statewide Observances
During the pandemic, not all state or national parks may be open and ceremonies may have been canceled at state and national cemeteries. Some will observe the holiday with small ceremonies not open to the public, but that may be streamed live or posted on their social media pages.
In the past, Oregon City has celebrated with a virtual service with speakers, a 21-gun salute by the VFW, and taps. The Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs hosts a Memorial Ceremony in Salem, which is broadcast live on their Facebook page, or if things aren’t quite back to normal, they’ll have a virtual ceremony that will then be posted on their Facebook page.
And of course, Oregon Public Broadcasting will air PBS’s annual National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday. Stream it live or watch it later. Each year, on Memorial Day eve, PBS honors the military and the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform. Watch as Arlington National Cemetery commemorates the holiday with the wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You can catch up on the history of the tomb and watch past ceremonies on You Tube.
Celebrate Memorial Day Your Way
Hike along the Trail of Ten Falls, along the Oregon Coast Trail, or in Crater Lake National Park, and take a moment of silence overlooking one of Oregon’s breathtaking waterfalls or a panoramic view of the high plains and alpine mountains.
Combine your love of wine and Memorial Day observances in Willamette. After a contemplative visit to the Willamette National Cemetery, take a tour of one of the region’s local wineries. Spend the day in Grants Pass, where you can attend the Marine Corps League’s annual Memorial Day Observance Ceremony at Hillcrest Memorial Park complete with the posting of colors, gun salute and over 1,000 flags waving from veterans’ graves. Afterwards wander through the lovely Willamette historic district.
Bend starts its Memorial Day early with the American flag installation on all veterans’ graves at the Deschutes Memorial Gardens, Pilot Butte, and Greenwood Cemeteries. And the Reading of the Names at Troy Field in downtown Bend is a solemn ceremony where the names of all soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003 are called out starting at 8 am.
Pick up some delicious Oregon BBQ or locally sourced steaks for your own cookout. Grill everything out on the grill in your vacation rental in Oregon with its scenic view. A small family cookout is a perfect way to spend Memorial Day this year.
Even though Memorial Day is for honoring our veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice, it’s always a good thing to honor any and all veterans, any day. If you know an active (or inactive) veteran, have your own Zoom ceremony or send them bright red/white/blue bouquets – or some of that BBQ! There are plenty of Memorial Day themed videos on YouTube too. Just having that military concert with patriotic music going in the background will make it easy to celebrate our veterans.
No matter where you are in our lovely state, Oregon has a park, a cemetery, or whatever you need to celebrate Memorial Day your way. Need help deciding where to stay? No problem! Just give our friendly staff a call and we’ll help you find the perfect vacation rental in Oregon for your Memorial Day stay in Oregon.