Memorial Day Observances in Little Rock, Arkansas

Memorial Day
••• Memorial Day. Getty Images

Most Americans consider Memorial Day the start of the summer vacation season, and a good excuse to kick back and have a BBQ.  In Arkansas, Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally the time for Arkansas Riverfest,, but this year Riverfest has moved to June.

Memorial Day is truly a day to remember fallen soldiers.  It started as Decoration Day.  Decoration day was first celebrated three years after the end of the Civil War.  It was a day designated to commemorate Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the war.  It was celebrated on May 30 because the best spring flowers would be in bloom. 

After World War I, the holiday was extended to include all soldiers who had died.  In 1971, it was declared an official national holiday.  The holiday of Memorial Day was placed as the last Monday in May, as many federal holidays are on Mondays.  It also gives us the long weekend we all enjoy.

Veteran's organizations and cemeteries across the state do honor the traditional sense of Memorial Day. Our fallen soldiers gave their lives so we could have the freedom to celebrate summer and check out the latest rock bands.  Do take some time to remember them Monday.

Here are a few ceremonies in 2016.

The State of Arkansas Memorial Day Ceremony: On May 30, the official celebration takes place at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at 1501 West Maryland Ave in North Little Rock.  The ceremony starts at 10 a.m.  The Governor and several politicians are usually in attendance at this one.

Afterwards, veterans are invited to the annual picnic sponsored by the Arkansas Veterans Coalition. It's free and located in Sherwood Forest (1111 West Maryland Avenue, in Sherwood).

Maumelle Veteran's Memorial Fountain Celebration:  Located at the Veterans Memorial at Lake Willastein, the ceremony starts at 10 a.m. on May 30.  The traveling Arkansas Fallen Heroes Memorial will be set up at Lake Willastein from May 28-30.  The Fallen Heroes Memorial is absolutely worth seeing.  Flags and placards for ever Arkansan that has given their life defending the country are displayed.  It's very moving to see them all. Located at Lake Willastein Dr.

Clark County Memorial Day Ceremony: Starts at 10 a.m. in the Clark County Courthouse Gazebo, 401 Clay Street, Arkadelphia. Ceremony on May 30.

Fayetteville National Cemetery Ceremony: Starts at 10 a.m. Cemetery located at 700 Government Avenue in Fayetteville.Ceremony on May 30.

Fort Smith National Cemetery Ceremony: Starts at 2 p.m. Cemetery located at 522 Garland Avenue in Fort Smith.  Ceremony on May 30.

Most of the state parks are celebrating.  Parks that are celebrating include Lake Charles, Lake Catherine, Historic Washington State Park and the Ozark Folk Center.

If you are looking for Memorial Day sales, you'll find plenty.  The Outlets of Little Rock is planning their first sidewalk sell in honor of Memorial Day.  It's May 27-30.  The mall will be open from 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday and 11am to 6pm on Sunday. Some of the offerings over the Sidewalk Sale weekend will include special savings from Gymboree, Book Warehouse, Limited Outlet, Corky’s, Go! Games & Calendars, Fragrance Outlet, Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic, among others.