GREAT FALLS — Members of the Montana Veterans Memorial Association spent part of their Saturday getting the site ready for Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony.
Since it opened in 2006, the Montana Veterans Memorial has placed more than 7,436 tiles honoring Montana veterans both living and deceased. The group adds about 200 new tiles every year, on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Before putting up the latest tiles, they performed a quality control check.
“We have 116 new tiles, with about 35 Blackfeet warrior tiles,” said Montana Veterans Memorial Association president Michael Winters. “So what we do is we check the tile as they’re made according to the applications to make sure everything’s correct.”
The new tiles will be part of the site’s 16th annual Memorial Day Ceremony, which will be on Monday at 2:00 p.m.
The presentation of colors will be carried forward by members of the Malmstrom Air Force Base Honor Guard, followed by an invocation given by U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Heather Bodwell.
The keynote speaker will be Montana Adjutant General Major General John Hronek. Hronek serves as the commander of the Montana National Guard and the director of the Department of Military Affairs for the state of Montana.
A traditional bagpipe salute will be provided by Jesse Callender of the Great Falls Pipe Band.
The Montana Veterans Memorial will receive a Blackfeet Tribal Blessing from Chief Earl Old Person. Tim Davis, Marvin Weatherwax, and the Blackfeet Veterans Honor Guard will also participate in the ceremony.
Members of the Sound Of The Falls choral group will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" during the event.
The ceremony will conclude with a benediction provided by MVMA Chaplain Jim Porter and a trumpet player sounding Taps to honor all service members who have passed.
In past years, the event has battled bad weather and even a pandemic. This year, Winters says it’s a good time to recognize Montana’s military history and appreciate the work done on the Memorial.
“We’ve had some great additions to the facility and the site,” said Winters. “We’d like to show that to people. We have a new computer in the kiosk and we’d like to showcase what we’ve got here.”
Monday’s ceremony will offer limited seating but it will be streamed live on the Montana Veterans Memorial Association Facebook page. It can also be heard on KGPR Public Radio in Great Falls at 89.9.
The Memorial is located at 1025 25th Street North in Great Falls.
For more information, or if you would like to honor a veteran, click here to visit the website.