Community members braved the rain Sunday to honor Memorial Day at the fourth annual Salute to Service Benefit Concert and Car Show at Greenwood Memorial Terrace.
Hosted by Fairmount Memorial Association, the evening featured free hot dogs, American hot rods and craft brews from Mountain Lakes Brewing Co. The live performance from the Heather King Band was canceled due to heavy rain, but plenty of people still made the journey to the memorial for the festivities.
Candace Aramburu, marketing director for Fairmount Memorial Association, said the event is part of three big fundraisers they put on in recognition of Memorial Day.
On Saturday, they hosted the Race to Remember 5K at Fairmount Memorial Park. Participants snaked their way through the cemetery that had been adorned with a couple thousand American flags, and all proceeds went to Meals On Wheels Spokane. On Monday morning, Fairmount Memorial Association and Heritage Funeral & Cremation will put on their Heroes’ Breakfast, with all proceeds benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank.
“It’s been very well received the past few years, and we want to thank the bands, the brewery, the American Legion riders and the community,” Aramburu said.
David Ittner, chief executive officer of Fairmount Memorial Association, said the concert is part of an effort to encourage the community to visit the cemetery and honor those laid to rest there. He noted that in the early days of cemeteries, they often served as public spaces. The annual concert at Greenwood Memorial Terrace honors Memorial Day and serves as an accessible entry point for those weary of using cemeteries as public spaces.
“You know, people may say ‘Why would you have a concert in a cemetery?’ ” Ittner said. “Well, it’s a chance to celebrate and remember. If no one visits, people will be forgotten.”
In attendance were automobile aficionados from The Gents Auto Club and the regional Pharaohs Car Club affiliate, displaying 20 of their hot rods along Sunrise Vista. Steve Williams, president of Gents Auto Club, said they love supporting a good cause, so the group has made a point of attending each year.
“It’s nice to give back as a club; it’s fun to share our hobby and passion,” Williams said. “People enjoy seeing things that remind them of their family and these cars do that. Lots of folks even get a little emotional.”
Williams said several Gents members are veterans, or come from military families, so the event hits close to home. Fundraising and benefit events are a big part of what the club does, with proceeds from their big events going to organizations like St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center, Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and Second Harvest Food Bank.
American Legion Riders from Post 9 were also in attendance. Each year, the veterans lead a Memorial Day flag cruise following the Heroes’ Breakfast. They will kick off their ride Monday morning at 10 a.m., traveling with flags attached through Riverside Memorial Park and Fairmount Memorial Park.
“We’re hoping to have as many motorcycles there as possible,” said Richard Gulling, director and events coordinator for Post 9. “It’s open to anyone who wants to ride, enjoy the day and celebrate Memorial Day.”
Mike Bondurant, American Legion District 8 vice commander, pointed out that several of the riders were wearing patches emblazoned with the number “22” to help spread awareness of the mental health struggles that plague veterans. He said 22 veterans kill themselves each day – a widely quoted statistic in veteran communities that stems from a 2013 report published by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Bondurant said American Legion Riders across the nation are advocating better mental health resources for veterans, which ties in to the organization’s mission to improve quality of life for veterans and their family members.
“The reason we do any of these events is to give back what we got and help those in need,” Bondurant said.