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1:52 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Prescott to host Memorial Day ceremonies at Veterans Center, Citizens Cemetery

Lisa Irish/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Yavapai Cemetery Association volunteers recently cleaned graves, including this veteran's, at Citizens Cemetery in Prescott in preparation for the upcoming Monday, May 28, ceremony.

Lisa Irish/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Yavapai Cemetery Association volunteers recently cleaned graves, including this veteran's, at Citizens Cemetery in Prescott in preparation for the upcoming Monday, May 28, ceremony.

Two events next week in Prescott will honor those who gave their lives for our country - one on Memorial Day at Citizens Cemetery, and one on Wednesday, May 30, at the Bob Stump Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

At 9 a.m. on Monday, families are welcome to attend an hour-long Arizona Centennial Decoration Day Observance at Citizens Cemetery at 815 E. Sheldon St., emceed by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett. The event is modeled after a ceremony that took place there more than 100 years ago, said Julie Holst, chairperson of the Yavapai Cemetery Association.

"Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall and June Thurman, director of the Arizona Highway 69 Chamber of Commerce, will make speeches," Holst said. "Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk will do the reading, Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher will share remembrances, and they'll all be in period clothing from the early 1900s."

Citizens Cemetery, founded in 1864, contains the graves of more than 2,500 Yavapai County pioneers, a number of whom were veterans of many wars - including the Civil War. People are encouraged to visit the graves before and after the ceremony, Holst said.

"Representatives from area veterans groups, including the Korean War Veterans Association, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and many others will be at the ceremony," Holst said. "This is a great opportunity for young people to talk to our veterans, ask questions about their experiences, thank them for their service, and learn about their roles in history."

People who attend the event will see the Camp Verde Cavalry and Arizona Rough Riders. Troop 1-A will present the flags to the American Legion Ernest A. Love Post #6 Color Guard who will post the colors, said Lee Nelson, event coordinator.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alfonso Santillan Jr., a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart - John R. Tapia Chapter, and his son Jeremy Santillan, a member of the Prescott High School Air Force JROTC, will lead the pledge of allegiance. Local students will lay a wreath at the flagpole, and members of several living history groups dressed in period clothing will mingle with the audience, Holst said.

Music will be provided by Mile High Pipes & Drums of Central Yavapai. A Prescott High School student will sing the National Anthem, the audience will sing patriotic songs, and echo taps will end the ceremony, Nelson said.

"This event is put on entirely by volunteers and we'd like to thank all the people businesses, and agencies who helped make this possible," Holst said.

In the past year, Yavapai Cemetery Association volunteers have repaired more than 33 damaged headstones, had fresh gravel laid on the road into the cemetery, and put up wrought-iron fencing to protect part of the cemetery from vandalism. The group continues to raise money to finish fencing the entire cemetery, said volunteer Bob Bakken. For more information about Yavapai Cemetery Association, visit www.yavapai.us/ycc/citizens-cemetery.

People who attend the observance should park on adjoining streets or in the Yavapai College parking lots and are encouraged to bring a chair, Nelson said.

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 30, the Northern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System will host its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on the grounds of the Bob Stump Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at 500 N. Highway 89.

Bennett will be the keynote speaker, and the program will feature a procession led by the Camp Verde Cavalry, Arizona Roughriders, the Scottish American Military Service Color Guard, Northern Arizona All Airborne, and the Young Marine Color Guard, said Ame Callahan, spokeswoman for the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System.

The American Legion Ernest A. Love Post #6 Color Guard will present the colors, and women from various veteran service organizations will all wear white, create an Aisle of Honor and present wreaths at the bronze Battlefield Cross, Callahan said.

The John Hafer Octet will perform a musical salute to the fallen, Thomas Kolsbun and John Stevens will play echo taps, and the American Legion #6 will accompany them with a gun salute.

There will be a reception following the ceremony at Building 15, the Theater Building, Callahan said.