Each year the Memorial Day weekend gets the summer in Rim Country off to a roaring start with a jam-packed calendar of activities. This year is no different. Take time to remember the real reason for the holiday at any or all of four services this year.
There is an opportunity to enjoy a couple of different community breakfasts in the sweet mountain morning air in Tonto Village or Pine and then attend one of both big arts and crafts events taking place in Payson and Pine.
Memorial Day services
The 2010 Memorial Day services in Payson will be held at four sites on three different days this year.
The services are to remember those who have died in the nation’s service and to honor those who have defended and continue to defend the country.
The Pioneer Cemetery Tribute is at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 29 at the Payson Pioneer Cemetery and presented by the Payson Womans Club.
The Mountain Meadows Tribute is at 10 a.m., Sunday, May 30 at the Mountain Meadows Memorial Park in Round Valley. This program is sponsored by Messinger Payson Funeral Home and supported by the Payson Patriotic Events Committee, the local posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.
The Memorial Day Flag Raising Ceremony at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino is at 8 a.m., Monday, May 31 and will include a program and selection of patriotic music.
The Memorial Day Tribute at Payson’s Green Valley Park is at 10 a.m., Monday, May 31 at the Veterans Memorial. The Payson Patriotic Events Committee presents this program. It will include patriotic music; presentation of the colors; an address by Mayor Kenny Evans of Payson; and guest speakers. There will also be a tribute by the Payson Military Honor Guard, including a rifle salute and “Taps,” plus a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Have breakfast in Tonto Village
The Hellsgate Fire Department Auxiliary, the Fireflies, will present a fun way to start the Memorial Day weekend. The group is having a fund-raising breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 29 at Fire Station #22 in Tonto Village, 151 Mathews Lane — go in one mile on Control Road off Highway 260. The menu includes sausage, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, juice and coffee. The cost is $5 per plate for adults and $3 per plate for a child 10 and under. For those who want a lighter breakfast, a chorizo burro can be purchased for $2. The day’s events will include a rummage sale.
Pine-Strawberry Arts & Crafts Festival
Head up the Beeline to the Pine Community Center to help celebrate 30 years of arts and crafts festivals in the Rim Country.
The Pine-Strawberry Arts & Crafts Guild will open its summer season with a Memorial Weekend festival from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 29 and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 30.
There will be 75 craft booths, featuring stained glass, jewelry, wood items, pottery, hand-woven baskets, hand-knitted and crocheted baby items, art work, greeting cards, copper items and much more.
You won’t go hungry. The Pine Strawberry Fire Department will be serving an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, sausages, orange juice and coffee; the Senior Center will be selling Navajo tacos; and there will be lots of other food vendors.
The Pine-Strawberry and DPS Quilters will be selling raffle tickets for three quilts.
The Pine Community Center is in the heart of Pine, across from the post office on Highway 87.
Mountain High Days
The 12th annual Memorial Day Weekend three-day Mountain High Days Arts & Crafts Bazaar is Saturday, Sunday and Monday, May 29, 30 and 31 on the Gila County Courthouse grounds at the corner of the Beeline and West Frontier St., Payson (across from the post office).
Crafters, artists and other vendors from throughout Arizona and the Southwest will participate in the event.
Classic Celebrations sponsors the bazaar, it is the fund-raising division of Greater Grace Fellowship International Ministries of Yuma, which has works in India, the Philippines and Yuma.
About Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service.
It was 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.
Following the end of the Civil War, many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who had died. These observances coalesced around Decoration Day, honoring the Union dead, and the several Confederate Memorial Days.
Some experts report the first Memorial Day was observed by formerly enslaved black people at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, S.C. The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp in 1865 as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, formerly enslaved people exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them properly with individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. The work was completed in only 10 days. On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to 10,000, mainly black residents, including 2,800 children, processed to the location for a celebration which included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day.
The alternative name of “Memorial Day” was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington’s Birthday, now celebrated as Presidents Day; Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.