Memorial Day tribute pays respects

Carefree will host a Memorial Day tribute Monday, May 30, at the Cave Creek Memorial Cemetery featuring several community organizations.

Carefree will host a Memorial Day tribute to recognize and show respect to those who died in service Monday, May 30, at the Cave Creek Memorial Cemetery.

Event organizer and Vice Mayor John Crane said, despite the name, the cemetery is in Carefree and is a relatively small pioneer cemetery in a natural, desert landscape.

The ceremony starts at 8 a.m. and will feature several community organizations. 

“It will last a little less than an hour. We want to be sensitive to the heat,” Crane said. “We tried to make it as community focused as possible. The local Boy Scout troop will present and retrieve the colors. We have a couple of students from Sonoran Trails Middle School who will sing the national anthem and ‘America the Beautiful.’”

American Legion Post 34 will also be there for the ceremony. The Black Mountain Foothills Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will serve water, coffee and cookies. 

In addition, Cactus Shadows High School students involved in the Veterans Heritage Project will talk about their experience. 

Crane said for the Veterans Heritage Project, students interview veterans and compile those stories into a book titled “Since You Asked.” The book will also be available for purchase at the program.

“It’s an excellent program,” he said. “It gets a young person in front of a veteran and gets a veteran to share their story with a young person, and that’s chemistry that is just great for both sides. That discussion hopefully imparts some shared values that are exchanged and hopefully some of those values stick.”

The keynote speaker is retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Jeffrey, a Vietnam War POW from 1965 to 1973. Jeffrey will share his experiences as well as the importance of POW bracelets.

“In those days, Americans back home would wear a bracelet with the name of a POW engraved on the bracelet just to remember them,” Crane explained. “When he (Jeffrey) returned, a few folks sent them to him, so it’s quite meaningful.”

Crane added that he hopes others will discuss why they wear POW bracelets. 

This is the fifth year for Carefree’s Memorial Day tribute, and Crane said it means a lot to veterans who served or families who lost someone.

“Carefree and the surrounding towns, we’re very respectful of our veterans,” Crane said.

“We just want to come together and show that respect, even if it’s just a morning on Memorial Day. It’s just the right thing to do. We have a lot of people who live in our town that are veterans. Or, if they aren’t, they have sons and daughters or moms and dads, family members who have served, and this means a lot to them.”

In addition to the ceremony, Crane said folks are also encouraged to visit the Veterans Memorial in the Carefree Desert Gardens and pay respects. 

Anyone interested in sharing the story of their own POW bracelet at the event can contact the Carefree Communications Coordinator Erica Shumaker at erica@carefree.org.

Carefree Memorial Day Tribute

WHEN: 8 to 9 a.m. Monday, May 30

WHERE: Cave Creek Memorial Cemetery, 36400 N. Pima Road, Carefree

COST: Free

INFO: carefree.org/calendar