Since our nation’s beginning 241 years ago, more than 1.1 million sons and daughters have died in wars. Those deaths have touched generations and are why we commemorate a special day for the fallen on Memorial Day. One way to honor the fallen on Memorial Day is to fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise it to the top until sunset.

Last year, 38 million people took flight on Memorial Day weekend, and this year could be just as busy.  If you plan to stay close to home, the Golden State has lots of events and activities to offer, both solemn and joyful. Here are some of our favorites in San Francisco and Los Angeles:


San Francisco

  • Head over to the Presidio for this year’s Memorial Day ceremony at San Francisco National Cemetery on Monday. This is the largest Bay Area event on Memorial Day and best place to pay tribute to veterans. This year’s 30-minute parade through the Presidio will start at 10:30 am Monday at the Main Post (on Anza between Sheridan and Lincoln Boulevard) and end at the National Cemetery. Every year, it starts with the 191st Army Band followed by veterans’ organizations and distinguished guests.
  • Carnaval San Francisco is a two-day celebration in the Mission District, on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th This year’s event is on Saturday and Sunday. The festival, which celebrates Latin American and Caribbean arts and traditions, will run from 10 am.-6 pm both days. The highlight is the Grand Parade on Sunday, starting at 9:30 am and lasting until 2 pm.
  • Or take in a concert. The Golden Gate Park Band has been playing free public concerts on Sundays in Golden Gate Park since 1882. Concerts start 1 pm and continue about two hours at the Spreckels Temple of Music at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park.


Los Angeles

  • Canoga Park is the place to be for the annual Memorial Day parade. The parade will include military marching units, bands, floats, dignitaries, antique and classic cars,youth groups, flyovers by military aircraft, and equestrian units. The procession is usually followed by a car show and entertainment in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church. This all will happen Monday from 10 am-noon.
  • Spend the day at the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which will have extended visitation hours on Memorial Day, from 8 am-7 pm. It is one of 128 national cemeteries in the country honoring our war dead on Memorial Day. The cemetery will have its commemoration ceremony at 10:30 am at the rostrum/flagpole. Dedicated in 1889, the cemetery can be found at 950 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
  • If the weather is gorgeous, take a trip to Venice Beach. The boardwalk is one of the most popular places to visit in all of Los Angeles. About 1.5 miles long, the boardwalk runs along the sands of the Pacific Ocean, showcasing street performers and vendors. If creative art tickles your fancy, check out the artists making handmade jewelry and paintings. Or for a change of pace, get your fortune read or take a walk on the wild side with a temporary tattoo.