Memorial Day events planned around the Flathead



— The Kalispell American Legion Auxiliary Unit 137 is sponsoring a Memorial Day balloon launch fundraiser at 2 p.m. Monday at Lawrence Park in Kalispell. The public is invited.

Red, white and blue balloons will be launched containing the names of veterans throughout the valley, including one for every veteran at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls.

Gold balloons will be for those killed in action for every war since the Spanish-American War. Black balloons will contain the names of POW/MIAs from Montana.

To include your veteran, send $1 along with their name to 625 Underhill Court, Kalispell, MT 59901. Their name will be placed in the balloon before launching. Call Jeanna Sibbert at 890-2097 for more information.

— United Veterans of the Flathead Valley will conduct Memorial Day ceremonies at several sites on Monday:

10:30 a.m. — Glacier Memorial Gardens, Kalispell.

11 a.m. to noon — Veterans Memorial, Depot Park, Kalispell.

Noon — VFW Post 2252 luncheon, 330 First Ave. W., Kalispell.

1:45 p.m. — Fairview Cemetery, 1225 Fairview Cemetery Road, with Honor Guard and Kelly Hartman officiating.

2:30 p.m. — Veterans Memorial, Marantette Park, Columbia Falls.

3 p.m. — Woodlawn Cemetery, Columbia Falls.

3:30 p.m. — Veterans Home Cemetery, Columbia Falls.

United Veterans of the Flathead Valley is made up all of the veterans organizations in the valley, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Marine Corps League, their auxiliaries and the National Guard.

Any member of any unit may participate in United Veterans meetings and become a member of the Honor Guard. All Honor Guard members are volunteers. Current membership is approximately 25.

The United Veterans provide the honor guard to perform military honors for any deceased veteran. United Veterans are also asked to perform at flag-raising ceremonies, parades and other events. Services are held for 60 to 100 veterans yearly. Anyone interested in joining may contact Jim Heibert at 862-4182.

— Whitefish will hold its annual Memorial Day parade on Monday despite road construction along West Second Street. Construction activity will not be going on during the holiday.

2:30 p.m. — Parade line-up at Whitefish Middle School.

3 p.m. — Parade begins.

3:15 p.m. — Wreath laying at Veterans Memorial Bridge.

3:20 p.m. — Parade continues to Whitefish Cemetery with guest speakers including retired Navy SEAL commander Ryan Zinke of Whitefish.

4 p.m. — After-parade feed at VFW Post 276 at 20 Baker Ave.

— Bigfork's Memorial Day ceremony will start at 11 a.m. Monday at the Bigfork Community Cemetery.

Participating organizations include the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4042 and its Auxiliary, along with American Legion Post 86.

The ceremony will honor Bigfork's veterans who have served in every conflict since the Civil War. Veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom are buried in Bigfork's three cemeteries.

Guest speaker will be retired U.S. Army Chaplain Samuel Birky from Lakeside.

Birky served his country for 31 years, including five years in the U.S. Navy covering two Vietnam combat tours. After a nine-year break in service, he re-entered the military as an Army Reserve chaplain. He retired in 2008 as command chaplain for the U.S. Army Civil Affairs/Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. His military accomplishments include a master parachutist, master scuba diver, weapons expert and extensive land warfare training.

Bigfork Community Cemetery is east of Bigfork on Swan River Road. Take Montana 83 South to the blinking light that marks the intersection of Swan River Road and Echo Lake Road.

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