Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day because of the tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, is a day of remembrance for American men and women who died while serving in American wars.

The tradition began after the Civil War as a way to honor Union and Confederate war dead. The Civil War, or War Between the States, is still the conflict in which the greatest number of causalities occurred, with more than 650,000 killed. In many American communities, it is common on Memorial Day to visit gravesites, lay flowers and if any had served in the Armed Forces, place a flag on the grave.

At 11 a.m. Monday, May 30, the American Legion Post 800 will conduct a service and an Honor Guard to pay tribute to American war dead, and remember and honor post members who have died during the last year. “There are quite a few this year,” said Dave Fraser, post adjutant. Post veteran Rick Foster will lead the Honor Guard. After the ceremonies, the post Auxiliary will host a complimentary luncheon.

From 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 28, the post will host a barbecue with baby-back ribs and chicken. The event is open to the public and all are welcome. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for children under age 12 in advance in front of the post office or $15 and $10 at the door.

From 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, May 29, the Idyllwild Rotary Club hosts its annual Memorial Day Apfel Phann Kuchen Breakfast, with apple pancakes, eggs, ham, juice and coffee. The event takes place on the Town Hall grounds. Tickets are a suggested donation of $7 for adults and $4 for children under age 12, and are available from any Rotarian or at the gate.

Other weekend events include Art in the Park, on the Johnson property across from the Idyllwild Community Center site and Shell station on Highway 243. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29. Art is available for purchase and there is no admission charge.

At the Idyllwild Nature Center on Highway 243, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, the 38th-annual Wildflower Show takes place. The event features guided walks, native food tasting, native plant sales, arts and crafts, live music and vendor booths.

A show of Pablo Picasso art will be presented by the Arn Hancock Trust at the Lightbender Gallery on Highway 243. The event takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29.

The Friends of the Idyllwild Library will host a book sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 28, in front of the Idyllwild Library in Strawberry Plaza.

And for the adventurous, the Lake Hemet Recreation Company opens the Memorial Day weekend with an 11 a.m. ribbon cutting at the Splashing Eagle Waterpark at Lake Hemet Campgrounds. The inflatable waterpark was first placed on the lake last year and proved a big draw for mountain residents and visitors. Swimming is allowed in the section of the lake where the park is sited and kayaks are available for rent. There are prices for admission both to the campground and the waterpark. For both campground and waterpark admission prices, call 951-659-2680.

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