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Memorial Day Activities & Events: Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Memorial Day was first celebrated a year after the end of the Civil War, which claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the nation’s first national cemeteries. Until 1971, it was known as “Decoration Day” in reference to the decoration of graves. For more information about the history of the holiday, visit History.Com's page on Memorial Day History.

May is also Military Appreciation Month. We would like to take this moment to thank all of the active-duty service men and women, those who serve in the reserves, as well as all of our honorable veterans who have fought for our country -- and most importantly we want to take a moment to remember and honor all of those who given the greatest sacrifice for us of their lives. Many of us have heroes like this in our families, and in our family histories.

We hope you are all able to find a way to remember and honor our nation's heroes this weekend. We've provided some ideas to help inspire you.



Wherever you and your family live, it doesn't cost anything, nor does it involve much planning to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 pm on Memorial Day. This is a time to pause for a moment of silence, for one full minute, to remember and honor those who have fallen in service to our country. The 3 pm time was chosen because it is the time when many Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. This event is intended to be a unifying act of remembrance for Americans of all ages. The National Moment of Remembrance Act became law in the year 2000.

There are a few different ways to observe the National Moment of Remembrance, both formally and informally. The moment of silence can be observed formally at places such as a veterans cemetery, or a memorial park (check your local city for their Memorial Day observance schedule and hours). If you're on your own, and not attending an organized event or co-mingling in a public space, you can informally observe the National Moment of Remembrance by playing ‘Taps’, the military bugle call that reflects on the glory of those who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country during the minute of remembrance. You can also ring a bell (or use a bell ringing app on your phone) to ring at the beginning and the end of the one minute of remembrance. If you are driving and unable to stop you can simply turn on your headlights for one full minute.




This FREE annual event is designed as a remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Gather at 11 am on the Pismo Beach Pier Promenade to honor and remember those we have lost.

Hillcrest Tree Farm in Reedley, California hosts its 124th Annual Memorial Day Picnic

This event is FREE and the public is invited to attend the event, which will include live music, complimentary barbecue lunches, a bounce house for children, a backgammon tournament, and steam train rides for all ages. Please contact the venue to confirm the time of this event.

Their annual observance will include a Patriotic Concert, Gold Star Remembrance Ceremony, and activities for the whole family. The event will go live on Monday, May 31, 2021, at 9 am.


Check out's page on Things to Do on the Central Coast - Memorial Day Weekend for more events and activities in this region.



California Automobile Museum Memorial Day Car Show - Featuring Vettes for Vets, Sacramento

The annual Memorial Day Car Show displays all makes and models of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other interesting special interest vehicles! This FREE show benefits, highlights, and honors our Veterans, especially those who have made the greatest sacrifice for our nation.

Observe Memorial Day at the USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum in Alameda, California

The program includes military vehicles on display, a Memorial Squadron flyover, and a short, socially distanced ceremony and wreath toss. The Swingin’ Blue Stars singing group is scheduled to perform outside on the pier. Visit the museum's event page for more information about this FREE event.

This event will take place from 11 am - 12 pm at McBean Park, Lincoln, California. This monument will honor all branches of veterans, retirees, reservists, and National Guard who honorably served in the United States Military, and includes active duty military members as well.

Please confirm this event with the venue, by contacting them directly.


Check out for more Events taking place in the region over Memorial Day Weekend.



Memorial Weekend Drive-Through Event at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana

Fairhaven Memorial Park Celebrates the Military! The FREE event will feature displays celebrating the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Forces. This event is set up on a one-mile drive around Fairhaven’s beautiful Historic Mausoleum. Tour hours are 10 am-3 pm, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Sign-ups are recommended.

Mission Viejo Memorial Day Weekend events - Drive-Through American Heroes Tribute & Memorial Day Virtual Presentation

The City of Mission Viejo will host a Drive-Through American Heroes Tribute this year in order to maintain social distancing while commemorating our nation’s fallen heroes.

The display will be available for drive-through viewing through Monday, May 31 in the courtyard at 200 Civic Center. The City's Memorial Day Virtual Presentation will air continuously on Monday, May 31, 2021 beginning at 8:30 am on the City’s YouTube channel.


Check out OrangeCounty.Net's list of Memorial Day Events for 2021 for more event ideas.


Visit the USS Midway during Legacy Week - for limited in-person and virtual events

The USS Midway Museum’s “Legacy Week” is the heart and soul of Memorial Day commemoration in San Diego. This year they are offering their most iconic activities onboard and in a FREE virtual format on Facebook Live. From a live stream Memorial Day commemoration to an interactive Remembrance Wall – each element of Midway’s Legacy Week commemoration is designed to honor and remember our heroes and celebrate our military heritage.


Visit SanDiego.Org's page on Memorial Day Weekend Events for more ways to observe the holiday.


FREEBIES for Active Duty Military Members, Reserve Military and Veterans

There are so many resources offering discounts and freebies to active duty military, reserve military, and veterans, but we just wanted to mention a few that caught our attention.

California State Parks is honoring the service of veterans, active and reserve military members, by offering them FREE admission to participating parks on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021. A total of 134 park units will be offering free admission this year. Please visit the CA State Parks Memorial Day page for details of all the parks offering free admission.

Field of Honor at Mission San Juan Capistrano: Memorial Day Weekend -- Including FREE admission to Mission on Memorial Day to active duty military, veterans, and first responders.

Visit this website, and this website, as well, for a list of discounts that Active, Reserved, and Veteran Military are eligible for through the end of May - Military Appreciation Month.


However you and your family opt to observe Memorial Day, we hope you all stay safe and enjoy the extra time with your family and loved ones during the long holiday weekend.


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