Memorial Day events at historic cemeteries Monday and Tuesday
PRESCOTT – Memorial Day ceremonies will take place Monday and Tuesday at historic cemeteries in Prescott.
Other observances around Yavapai County include the American Legion's service at 10 a.m. Monday at the Ash Fork Cemetery in northern Yavapai County.
The public is welcome at all the services.
Legion Chaplain Spence Estus has arranged for an Army delegate to speak at the Ash Fork service, and Rita Cantu will sing. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Va., serves as the national focus for the community's Memorial Day event.
In Prescott, services take place at 10 a.m. Monday at Citizens Cemetery and 11 a.m. Tuesday at the National Veterans Cemetery. Both these cemeteries date back to Prescott's founding in 1864.
The Yavapai Cemetery Association organized the services at Citizens Cemetery, 815 E. Sheldon St. The program will be fashioned after a 1910 observance at Citizens.
Sheriff G.C. "Buck" Buchanan will be master of ceremonies. Jon Davis, chaplain for the Arizona Highway Patrol and Prescott Valley Police Department, will give the invocation.
The program includes readings by Sen. Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, and Prescott Mayor Sam Steiger; reading of the Gettysburg Address by county Supervisor Gheral Brownlow; and the laying of a memorial wreath by county School Superintendent Paul Street.
The service also includes the flag raising, bagpipe selections by Jim Burns, a musical selection by a brass trio, and a volley and taps.
The American Legion Post #6 Color Guard, Camp Verde Cavalry, Marine Corps League, Troop A 1st U.S. Vol. Cavalry "Rough Riders," and the Vietnam Veterans of America also will participate in the ceremony.
Representatives from various organizations will
process into the ceremony. The memberships of those buried in the cemetery determine which groups receive invitations to participate.
Citizens Cemetery contains the graves of more than 2,500 Yavapai County pioneers and veterans of numerous wars, including the Civil War.
The Cemetery Association encourages people to visit the grave sites before and after the services, and to bring flowers to place on a grave to commemorate a friend or loved one buried in a distant cemetery. Volunteers and descendants will be available to answer questions and provide information.
Those who come to Monday's service should bring their own chairs. Parking is available on city streets and in the Yavapai College parking lots. The cemetery will be open to pedestrians only during the observance.
Miniature flags will decorate each grave for Tuesday's Memorial Day observance at the National Veterans Cemetery in Prescott. The cemetery was established at the same time as Fort Whipple, and more than 3,000 veterans are interred there.
Local service organizations choose to conduct the National Cemetery's Memorial Day service on May 30 each year, because that's the day the country originally observed it until Congress moved it to Monday to provide a three-day holiday weekend.
The observance begins with a procession of the color guard from the Ernest A. Love Post of the American Legion, BPO Elks bagpipers, Camp Verde Cavalry and Arizona Rough Riders.
Featured speakers will be two retired Army majors, Fred Ferguson of Phoenix, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest combat award; and John Tapia of Prescott, who has been honored with seven Purple Hearts.
The Prescott Veterans Affairs Medical Center, located where Fort Whipple once stood, operates the cemetery. VAMC Chief Executive Officer Pat McKlem will give a welcome speech.
The Prescott Fine Arts Chamber Singers will perform next, followed by presentation of the wreath on the cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then Leonard "Rosie" Ross and Karl Kaubb will play the silver taps.
The ceremony ends with a Jewish Kaddish by Rabbi William Berkowitz of the Yavapai County Jewish American War Veterans. The Kaddish is a Hebrew memorial prayer for the death of a loved one.
The National Cemetery is on the southeast corner of the intersection of highways 89 and 69, but the entrance is on the other side of the intersection off Highway 89, across from the VAMC entrance.
Limited parking is available at the cemetery, or you can take a shuttle from the VAMC main hospital building #107 at 10:15, 10:30 or 10:45 a.m. Since it is a business day, the best place to park at the VAMC is the lower parking lot; take the first right turn after going through the entrance.