Individuals and families thinking about finding a meaningful way to mark Memorial Day 2023 have several local events to choose from this weekend. Read on for times, locations and event details.
Bakersfield National Cemetery
Veterans, their families and friends, and the public are invited to the 2023 Memorial Day ceremony scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Bakersfield National Cemetery, about 25 miles east of Bakersfield at 30338 E. Bear Mountain Blvd.
Guest speakers for the event include U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joseph Smith, deputy director, Europe-Mediterranean Directorate at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
The event will also feature a flyover, wreath presentation, traditional military tributes and music provided by the Bakersfield High School Band.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael “Cap” Pacini will provide the keynote address. Pacini is the commander of the 416th Flight Test Squadron and director of the Global Power Fighter Combined Test Force, which is responsible for developmental testing on various fighter and trainer aircraft. The CTF consists of more than 234 personnel and oversees flight test activities for multiple variants of the F-16 fighter as well as the T-7 and T-38 programs.
Disabled-accessible parking is available at the cemetery but is extremely limited. Therefore, carpooling to the ceremony is strongly urged. An ASL interpreter will be on site for the hearing-impaired.
Due to the expected large crowd, patrons are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by 8:45 a.m. The ceremony, which will begin at 9 a.m., is expected to last approximately one hour. Traffic at the site will be required to cease at that time.
The ceremony will be held rain or shine so plan appropriately for inclement weather. Should the weather be warm, as expected, complimentary bottled water will be available during the ceremony.
Ninth annual Thousand Flags
Saturday through Monday
The Park at River Walk in southwest Bakersfield will come alive over Memorial Day weekend as a thousand flags are flown simultaneously through the park to honor and remember those who gave their lives in service to their country.
Presented annually by Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club, the flags will fly beginning at noon Saturday and will remain on brilliant display through 4 p.m. Monday.
The public is invited to sponsor a flag in honor of or in memory of a current or former member of the military or a first responder. Flag sponsorships are available at $50 per flag and can be ordered through the Breakfast Rotary website, www.bbrc.org, and clicking on the Thousand Flags "Flag Sponsor" link — or at the event throughout the weekend. Sponsors can retrieve their flag beginning at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
On Monday, Memorial Day, a patriotic fair, featuring exhibitors and food vendors, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Historic Union Cemetery
The public is invited to Historic Union Cemetery's annual Memorial Day Ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday at the memorial park, 730 Potomac Ave. in east Bakersfield.
The patriotic event is intended to honor and remember those who bravely served our country and gave their lives in the name of freedom.
Michael Bowers, a trustee of Historic Union Cemetery, will serve as master of ceremonies. Several guest speakers are scheduled, including cemetery Manager Griselda Hurtado, interim Kern County Veterans Service Officer Jose Lopez, Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, Kern County Supervisor Jeff Flores, Assembly members Vince Fong and Jasmeet Bains, and Col. Ahave E. Brown Jr., commander of the 412th Maintenance Group at Edwards Air Force Base.
The ceremony will include a prayer by Pastor Josephate Jordan, a garrison flag provided by the Kern County Fire Department, presentation of colors by the Sons of the American Revolution, singing of the national anthem by Efrain "Rocky" Garza, and music performances and taps by the West High School Viking Band.
Hillcrest Memorial Park and Mortuary
Hillcrest's 2023 Memorial Day ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Monday at 9101 Kern Canyon Road, at the cemetery's Hill of Valor Garden in northeast Bakersfield.
"Because no duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks, you are cordially invited to our Memorial Day Service," Hillcrest said on its Facebook page.
Patriotic songs will be shared, readings will be recited and refreshments will be available on what is expected to be a warm, but beautiful day.
Billed as "the largest Memorial Day tribute in Bakersfield," Greenlawn Southwest, at 2739 Panama Lane, has invited the community to attend the annual event designed to pay tribute to those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It begins at noon in the Celebration of Life Center, and will include a number of dignitaries or their representatives. Several local organizations are participating.
"Greenlawn has been and will continue to be grateful for those who laid down their lives in defense of freedom as well as support the men and women currently serving in the armed forces," Mike Jenkins, community patriotic events coordinator, said in a news release.
Joining in the event will be Bakersfield City Council members Andrae Gonzales and Manpreet Kaur, as well as representatives from the offices of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. David Valadao, Assemblyman Vince Fong and state Sen. Shannon Grove.
The African American Network of Kern County, Buffalo Soldiers, the Olive Drab Drivers, Bakersfield Fire Department and others are expected. The afternoon's guest speaker will be Kern County Sheriff's Sgt. Dustin Contreras.
The program will include military honors performed by members of Bakersfield Young Marines along with the South High School Color Guard. Additionally, a 20-voice patriotic choir from Whitchard Choral Arts Academy will be in attendance.
Light refreshments will be served.