The North Dakota Veterans Cemetery plays host to multiple events every year, none bigger than its annual Memorial Day festivities. But we normally don’t think about all the work and preparation that goes into such an affair.
Every Memorial Day the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery hosts quite the impressive ceremony to remember our fallen military members.
People from all over the state and sometimes even the world come to Mandan to pay their respects and participate in one of the biggest events in the state.
But how do we get from this… to this?
“Memorial Day is one day out of the year however preparing for it is weeks and even months prior,” said Pamela Helbling-Schafer, Director of the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.
The cemetery staff isn’t the only ones prepping for this day however. The North Dakota National Guard plays an integral role throughout the whole ceremony. Sergeant First Class Mark Stenberg has been a part of the event for six years now, this will be his first as the master of ceremonies. Preparing a script, practicing it multiple times and leading a handful of walkthroughs are just a few of his responsibilities.
“I think Memorial Day is an important day for everybody, our nation, to remember the sacrifices that our service members have paid the ultimate sacrifice and remember the veterans that aren’t here to celebrate too. It’s a day of celebration and remembrance,” said Stenberg.
Along side all the flags and flowers in the cemetery there’s one more important piece that really makes the memorial day celebration unforgettable, motorcycles.
“Between 400 to 700 bikes will ride out here,” said Honor Ride organizer Butch Olson.
Olson has been organizing the Honor Run for more than 20 years and says the hardest part about his job, is keeping all the riders safe.
“If somebody’s not paying attention they’re right behind somebody and it could be a problem but we’ve been very fortunate and people just love it,” said Olson.
And all of this builds up to one amazing Memorial Day Ceremony.