As a tyke, I couldn’t keep Memorial Day and Labor Day straight. I only knew that I liked the late spring holiday that was the school year’s death throe, the patriotic events and overabundance of picnic fare that came along with it, and what hopefully and finally seemed to mark warmer temperatures for chilly Minnesota. As I grew in height and experience, Memorial Day grew in significance. While family picnics have their own merit, perhaps you’re looking to supplement your usual routine with events that hone in on the meaning of Memorial Day. The Twin Cities don’t disappoint. Here are four events to pique your interest.
Forget the textbook timeline and experience living history.
Fort Snelling opens with a bang the weekend before Memorial Day. Starting at 10:00 am and running until 5:00 pm on the holiday, the historic fort puts on a living history of military through the ages, complete with the evolution of uniforms and weaponry. Concerned that living history just isn’t enough to entertain rambunctious kids or satiate the family history buff? Games and military demos punctuate the day, offering plenty of excitement for each energy, knowledge, and age level.
Explore the potential of the little suburb.
While most eyes stop at the towering rollercoasters of Valleyfair, look a little farther and you’ll find the Landing nestled in the little suburb of Shakopee. The Landing hosts an annual Memorial Day celebration that gives guests the opportunity to glimpse life during the Civil War. The festivities run from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, with a special Memorial Day service at 2:00 pm. If you’re looking to make a weekend of it, plenty of living history folk hang out, draft horse carriage rides are available, and games resurrected from the forgotten past abound.
Quit neglecting the Capitol.
Most Minnesotans have only ever driven by their own Capitol. It’s just there. But if you’re looking for a more low-key accompaniment to the family picnic, break the norm and stop by the Capitol in the evening to peruse the various war memorials. Memorials for Vietnam and Korean vets, Peace officers, and World War II afford an opportunity to reflect on the cost of freedom. If you want to catch the excitement, head to the Capitol by 11:00 am to partake in various events put on by veterans groups.
Appreciate the community.
Lakewood Cemetery puts together a full day to honor those who’ve given their lives in military service. Beginning at 10:30 am, the day starts with a service featuring a speaker, the playing of taps, a Gospel quartet, and many other commemorative aspects. After the service, attendees can explore via historical tours, trolley, carriage rides, and exhibits.
While Memorial Day might hasten in a lazy (or insanely busy) summer season, don’t let that lull you into missing the plethora of opportunities that Minneapolis-St. Paul have to offer. Get out and absorb the history and appreciate the significance behind this holiday.