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Month of May: a mix of old and new events

Tales from
Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

By Sue Hunter Weir

165th in a Series

It seemed like spring would never come, but here we are at last.  And that means that there will be a lot of wonderful events happening in the cemetery.

One of the most important is the 151st Memorial Day observance on Monday, May 27 at 10 a.m.  This year’s keynote speaker is Lt. Col. Lori Allert, U.S. Army Nurse.  Students from the Minnesota Transition Charter School will read General Logan’s Orders and the Gettysburg Address. American Legion Post 1 will provide the Firing Team, and the Seward Community Concert Band will provide the music. Please join us for this moving tribute to veterans dating back to the War of 1812.

At 1 p.m. on the 27th, there will be a seated history talk followed by an optional tour.  If you’ve always meant to stop in and visit the cemetery but never quite made it, this is a perfect chance to do just that.  All Memorial Day events are free.

And spring just wouldn’t be spring if we didn’t show a Buster Keaton silent film. This year’s film is regarded as one of Keaton’s best—Sherlock Jr.  The Library of Congress designated this film to be preserved on the National Film Registry because it is “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” What better film to show in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery—the first cemetery in Minnesota listed as an individual landmark in the National Register of Historic Places. Dreamland Faces, another local treasure, will perform a live soundtrack. The film will begin at sundown (officially 8:45 p.m. but most likely closer to 8 p.m.) on Saturday, May 25th.  Gates will open at 7 p.m. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on.  Snacks will be available. Service animals only, please. Tickets $10 at the gate (cash or checks).  No need to purchase tickets in advance.

And on Sunday, May 19 at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., join us for the first-ever performance of “Hiraeth: Walking the Long Field at Laymans,” an original play written by local artist Cynthia Veal Holm.  Hiraeth is a Welsh word that doesn’t have an exact equivalent in English, but translates roughly into “yearning” or a sense of nostalgia for something from the past, even if that “something” never existed.  The play consists of three scenes woven together by music as guests proceed from one grave to the next.  Jenn Kudelka directs an amazing cast – Murial Bonertz, Wendy Freshman, and Ilana Kapra – and Laura Nichols creates the music to guide us on our way.  

The play is part of a weekend-long initiative from the Mayor’s office called Doors Open Minneapolis.  The cemetery will host an open house on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (the play is Sunday afternoon only). There will be a self-guided history hunt, crafts for the kids, the opportunity to make a rubbing on one of the cemetery’s granite markers, a chance to see the inside of the 1871 caretaker’s cottage and a number of displays.  All open house activities, including the play, are free and open to the public.

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