The first long holiday weekend of the summer is finally here, and it's time to get out and explore!

While camping and barbecuing is high on the list of things to do for many, there are organized activities taking place around the Valley. For live music, there's plenty to pick from: Ukulele Russ kicks off Talkeetna's Live at 5 concert series on Friday; The Ken Peltier plays on Friday at the Palmer Alehouse; and on Saturday, the Monica Lettner Band is at the Alehouse. And don't miss a full weekend of rodeo at the Alaska State Fair, along with live music and bull riding championships.

Of course, the real reason of Memorial Day weekend is to honor those who died while serving their country. The Veterans Wall of Honor hosts the Memorial Day event at 1 p.m. Monday in Wasilla. A full ceremony is planned, including the 11th Airborne Band performance.

The Veterans Wall of Honor was originally located on a piece of property near Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. After the property was sold three times, the Wall faced an uncertain future. In 2018, it was relocated to the old Iditarod Elementary property on Wasilla Fishhook Road, just north of Wasilla, which is the new headquarters for the Wasilla Police Department as well. The Veterans Wall of Honor is a monument dedicated to Alaska's veterans, both living and dead. Names of those who have served are etched in the granite panels, representing every branch of the military. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, celebrations are held there to honor those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

In Denali State Park, the Alaska Veterans Memorial is located at Mile 147.1 and features five towering 20-foot tall concrete panels, representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, arranged in a semi-circle, paying homage to our veterans.