Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, began in 1866 as an observance to honor Civil War dead, both Union and Confederate. It was called Decoration Day because of the practice of decorating the graves of the more than 600,000 men who died in the conflict.

Over the years, the observance was expanded to honor war dead from all American military conflicts. And the practice of decorating graves, at first annual gatherings of family members to place flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers, also expanded to include decorating graves of family members and friends regardless of military service.

Idyllwild’s American Legion Post 800 will host two events: a Saturday, May 27, hamburger, brats and hot dog barbecue from 1 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to both attend and bring side dishes, if they choose. Admission is $8 but alcohol service at the bar is limited to Post members, vets and member guests; and a solemn commemoration of Memorial Day at 11:00 a.m. Monday, May 29.

At 11 sharp, the Post honor guard will commence the ceremony outside, honoring Post and other Hill veterans who have passed on in the past year. There also will be a formal flag folding, with each fold of the flag honoring dead from a particular American conflict.

Navy Capt. Ned Roberts will talk about his own service and the distinction of being part of a long line of veterans, with combined service of more than 120 years. Post Col. Barney Brause will act as emcee for the ceremony. Afterward, the Ladies Auxiliary will host a complimentary luncheon.

Memorial Day in Idyllwild also is the informal launch of summer recreation, replete with the not-to-be-missed Memorial Day yard sales, the Nature Center Wildflower Show, the Middle Ridge Winery Music line-up, Rotary Pancake breakfast and other “about town” events.

Idyllwild is a very popular destination for off-Hill visitors so plan to make weekend restaurant reservations early.