Montana Public Radio

Memorial Day Events Around Western Montana

May 23, 2019

Updated with additional events, 05/24/19, at 5 p.m.

Memorial Day 2019 is Monday and there’s no shortage of Montana events planned to mark the occasion.

Members of American Legion Post 14 are already starting to prepare for Bozeman’s Memorial Day observance.

“Yesterday we placed 2,472 flags on every single veteran’s grave up at Sunset Hills Cemetery.”

That’s Post 14’s Commander, Len Albright.

“It’s just a great day to remember," he says. That’s the key – remember - all those folks.”

American Legion’s Post 14’s Memorial Day starts before dawn when members plan to deck out Bozeman’s Main Street with 89 flags.

A public breakfast will be offered at the Legion Hall starting at 7:00. The meal is free but donations are accepted. The 10thannual parade down Main Street follows at 9:30. The parade’s grand marshals include parents of Montana Medal of Valor recipient Army Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins. Atkins was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest military honor in March.

Yellowstone National Cemetery’s noon Memorial Day service in Laurel features keynote speaker, Jon Tester, Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senator. U.S Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves joins Tester, as does Winfield Russell, vice president of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

For sheer volume of Memorial Day ceremonies, Missoula is tough to beat.

The United States of Hope partners with Montana Veterans Alliance to offer 12 unique ceremonies and 51 wreath presentations Monday.

That’s a lot, but Sam Redfern points out that a lot of veterans call Montana home.

"There’s 12,000 to 15,000 veterans in Missoula and there’s 130,000 veterans in Montana."

Redfern, an Iraq war combat veteran and president of the non-profit United States of Hope says Monday starts with a 6:30 sunrise ceremony at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery.

"We started that last year to memorialize and remember those who’ve lost their lives to suicide. That sunrise service is very special and unique. Some of our brave men and women died in battle and some of them came home and the battle took them."

The number of Memorial Day ceremonies held in Missoula — considered to be one among the most in the nation — conclude at about 4 p.m. at the University of Montana’s Iraq/Afghanistan war memorial.

The United Veterans of the Flathead Valley has also planned a full slate of Memorial Day events, starting Monday morning at 10:30 at Glacier Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Speaking of the Flathead Valley, Glacier High School’s band will represent Montana this year in Washington D.C.’s National Memorial Day parade.

Butte’s United Veterans Council hosts its annual Memorial Day Service. The Montana Standard reports anticipated inclement weather prompted officials to move services from Stodden Park to the Butte Civic Center. The services start at 10 a.m. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte will be the morning’s keynote speaker.

On the heels of a successful donation drive that collected hundreds of items for care packages, a Montana non-profit is hosting a barbeque at Helena’s Safeway next Friday, May 31. Five dollars will buy you lunch, and all proceeds will help the "Montana Supporting Military" group send care packages to 1,000 men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed in 19 countries.

Many Memorial Day ceremonies will also honor the 75th anniversary of World War II’s D-Day, when Allied forces invaded Northern France on June 6, 1944.