Memorial Day events in the Brainerd lakes area

Events will be in Brainerd, Backus, Crosslake, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Pine River and Little Falls.

Caring for graves in preparation for Memorial Day
Diane Nelson, left, and Carmela Ariemma care for the Mass and Adair gravesites Monday, May 22, 2023, at Evergreen Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

There are numerous opportunities to attend Memorial Day celebration events throughout the Brainerd lakes area.


Memorial Day ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, May 29, at Laurel Street bridge in Brainerd.

A wreath will be thrown into the Mississippi River, honoring those lost at sea.

The next stop will be the All Veterans Memorial to honor men and women of the Armed Forces. The Bataan Death March will be remembered. Taps will be played along with a three-volley rifle salute at each of the events.

The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Second Avenue Northeast, east to Third Avenue Northeast, then north on Third Avenue Northeast to the Evergreen Cemetery. At 11 a.m., the main ceremony will begin. If there is inclement weather, the event will be moved to the National Guard Armory, 1115 Wright St., Brainerd. Details can be found at .


Memorial Day observances have been happening annually since 1968 and conducted under the auspices of the Brainerd Area Memorial Day Committee, which consists of officers and members of area veterans organizations, auxiliaries and other interested persons. The committee begins its monthly meetings in January or February to plan and organize that year’s events. Anyone interested in helping to continue this important event are welcome to participate and share their talents.

The Brainerd American Legion will host a Memorial Day picnic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 29, free for veterans and families.


Crosslake Lutheran Church will host a community observance of Memorial Day Sunday, May 28.

A more traditional worship service will be 8:30 a.m. in the sanctuary at Crosslake Lutheran Church across from the campground. The 10 a.m. outdoor worship will feature a larger community-wide Memorial Day weekend observance at 14019 Daggett Pine Road, across from the Crosslake Community Center baseball field. Both services are open to the public.

The celebration will include recognition of all veterans and military personnel in attendance, special music and guest speaker Ken Neihart. Neihart served 31 years in the Minnesota Army National Guard from 1964 to 1995. He received his commission at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1967 and retired in 1995 as a colonel. He had various positions in the following National Guard Units: 47th Military Police Company, Troop Command, Headquarters 47th Infantry Division, Minnesota National Guard Military Academy and Minnesota National Guard State Headquarters. He has been on State Active Duty five times during his time in the National Guard. Currently he has a son-in-law serving in The Minnesota Air National Guard and three uncles who served during World War II. His civilian occupations were a police officer for the city of St. Paul for six and a half years and a biology teacher at Tartan High School for 31 years. He and his wife, Barb, sold their home in Shoreview and moved full time to Crosslake in 2022. The outdoor service will feature an aerial fly-over (weather permitting). The Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Post 500 Color Guard will provide appropriate honors to the colors and to the dead, including a bugler playing taps.

The Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Post 500 will lead the annual Crosslake Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, May 29, at Crosslake's Pinewood Cemetery on County Road 36.

The Crosslake Fire Department will participate with its 78-foot ladder truck displaying a large American flag.

Firefighter Joel Carlton will be the guest speaker. He is a local contractor who has dedicated his life to serving the community.


This ceremony is to honor and remember military veterans who sacrificed their lives defending the United States.

There are 198 local veterans buried at Pinewood Cemetery who are identified with individual American flags at their gravesites. They will be recognized individually during the ceremony.

To begin the ceremony, the American flag will be raised to half staff followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. The ceremony will conclude with the Post 500 Color Guard providing military honors with the traditional rifle salute and the playing of taps.

Those who attend should bring lawn chairs and umbrellas if there is the possibility of inclement weather.

Pine River

Pine River's Memorial Day celebration will begin at 9:15 a.m. Monday, May 29, at the Norway Brook dam, where a wreath will be laid. Jim Parry will speak on behalf of the American Legion.

The group will continue to Pine Ridge Cemetery at 10 a.m. for another wreath ceremony. At 11 a.m., there will be another ceremony at Swanburg Cemetery.

Pequot Lakes

The annual Memorial Day service will start at 10 a.m. Monday, May 29, at Pequot Lakes High School. Guest speaker will be Paul Edwards, from Nisswa American Legion Post 627. Following the service will be a ceremony at the Pequot Lakes Cemetery and a Naval wreath ceremony at Sibley Lake, followed by lunch at the Pequot Lakes American Legion.


Backus American Legion Post 368, the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion will conduct Memorial Day services 10 a.m. Monday, May 29, at the Backus Evergreen Cemetery and at 11 a.m. at Ponto Lake Cemetery.


Backus American Legion Commander Brad Taylor, a retired veteran of the U.S. Navy, will be the speaker.

In case of bad weather, services will be moved to the American Legion hall in Backus and the Ponto Lake Town Hall. Lunch will be served at 1 p.m. at the Legion Club following the Ponto Lake service.


The Nisswa Memorial Day remembrance will be held at noon Monday, May 29, at the Nisswa American Legion.

Citizens of Nisswa and the area will come together in a commemoration ceremony to honor soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our county’s liberty.

The Nisswa American Legion Color Guard will render military honors. Mitch Myers will provide music. The Nisswa Elementary School essay winner will read their winning essay.

There will also be a guest speaker.

While the main purpose of the ceremony is to honor those who have died, attendees will also honor those who have served and those who continue to fight for the freedom of the United States.

Little Falls

The Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery-Little Falls, 15550 Highway 115, Little Falls, will be hosting its Memorial Day program Sunday, May 28, to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.


An instrumental music concert by the Richfield Symphonic Band will begin at 1:30 p.m. A welcome message will be given at 2 p.m. by cemetery administrator Erik Sogge. The posting and retiring of colors will be by the Minnesota Army National Guard Funeral Honors Program. The National Anthem will be performed by the Richfield Symphonic Band and the St. Francis Community Chorale. The parade of flags will be by local veteran service organizations. The invocation and benediction will be by Joe Schirmers of the VFW Post No. 4847. The Fallen Soldier Display will be by Korean War veterans, MN Chapter 1. There will be a memorial wreath placement by military branches, POWs and Korean War veterans.

Keynote speaker will be Randal Dietrich, executive director of the Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum.

A rifle salute and taps will be performed by a memorial rifle squad.

Closing remarks will be by Sogge.

Due to the high number of attendees expected, the public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs and carpool, if possible. Also, as a reminder to families, the cemetery floral policy allows for artificial flowers to be placed on gravesites from until June 8. Any artificial flowers on gravesites before or after these dates will be removed. Fresh cut flowers may be placed at any time of the year. A full list of cemetery floral regulations are posted on signs throughout the cemetery.


The Walter Scott Erickson American Legion Post No. 557 of Deerwood will host a Memorial Day celebration on Monday, May 29.

The celebration will begin at the Deerwood Legion Post at 8:30 a.m. with a flag raising ceremony. The celebration will then move one block to the Deerwood Auditorium for a Memorial Day service at 9 a.m. to be presented by the Legionnaires, Auxiliary and Sons of the Legion of Post No. 557.


Pine Ridge Cemetery will be the setting again this year for the Memorial Day service in Emily at 9 a.m. Monday, May 29.


In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be indoors at the Emily City Hall gymnasium.

The United Methodist Church in Emily will host a reception following the service. They will be serving coffee and baked goods.


A Memorial Day service will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 29, at Crosby’s Lakewood Cemetery located at 21235 Wood Avenue in Ironton.

The Myrin-James American Legion Post No. 443 will present the Memorial Day service including roll call of deceased veterans, auxiliary, SAL members and a short message.

Following the service, all are invited to the Ironton American Legion for a complimentary meal from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dine-in only. Donations are welcome.

In case of inclement weather, the Memorial Day service will be at Mayberry Auditorium in the C-I High School, 711 Poplar in Crosby.


There will be a Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. Monday, May 29, at the Aitkin American Legion with a lunch to follow.


A Memorial Day service will be 10 a.m. Monday, May 29, at the Garrison Cemetery by the Garrison VFW.


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