Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Cemetery: Honoring Veterans from the Bay Area and Beyond

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: January 17, 2024

Head over to the Presidio for this year's Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Cemetery on Monday, May 27, 2024. This is the largest Bay Area event on Memorial Day and the best place to pay tribute to our veterans.

I've been to this event many times over the years. The pictures you see here are from previous years (it changes slightly from year to year), but should give you a good idea on what to expect.

I recommend wearing comfortable shoes. In my experience, there isn't always enough seating for the number of people that attend. You'll see this in my pictures below, but each year is a little different. I just recommend being prepared when you arrive.

Ceremony Details

Band Concert

This year's event will kick off with a band concert at 10:30 am. 

Formal Program

After the concert, at around 11 am, the formal program starts. It features several speakers including both local politicians and veterans.

This year's speakers include CDR Daniel Bernardi, Ph.D., Navy Reserve, Sgt. Maj of the Army Michael Grinston, and others.

The speeches during the Memorial Day Program in SF's National Cemetery

It also includes a Gold Star Family wreath presentation and a flyover by the Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco.

This program lasts about an hour.

There are plenty of places to sit during the ceremony. You can also walk around and explore the gravestones as you can hear the speeches in this part of the cemetery too.

Meditative Organ Concerts at the Presidio Chapel

The Presidio Chapel, a historic beauty just up the hill from the National Cemetery, will offer a service on Monday, May 27 from 12 pm to 1 pm.

The service is to "Honor and Remember" those that died in the United States Armed Forces. 

You will find the Presidio Chapel at 130 Fisher Loop.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Best Places to Stay Nearby

If you plan on attending this event and would like to stay nearby, you can stay right in the park at the Inn at the Presidio. This gorgeous hotel features 22 rooms, 17 of which are suites. Click here to learn more.

Another great place to stay nearby is the Marina. This cute, local neighborhood offers rooms in small motels and in a few bed-and-breakfasts. Click here to learn more about this district and my top recommendations to stay the night.

If you are looking for other hotels throughout the city, you can find some here. There are often deals running that might save you some money. Click here for find the specials currently running for San Francisco.

How to Get to the National Cemetery

From San Francisco

  • Bus: The two buses that drop off in or near the Presidio are the 28, 30 and the 45. Once you arrive, find the closest PresidiGo shuttle stop for the Crissy Field route and take that to the National Cemetery. You can also walk, which from any of these stops takes anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes.
  • PresidiGo: You can also take the PresidiGo Shuttle from downtown San Francisco to the Presidio. This is a free shuttle service that picks up at at the Salesforce Transit Center, the Embarcadero BART, along Van Ness Avenue, and Union Street.
  • Drive: There is plenty of parking in the Presidio, so this is a rare opportunity to drive without having to search too long for a place to park. After driving into the Presidio, follow the signs to the Main Post. You will find parking here. It's about a three-block walk to the National Cemetery.

Driving From the North Bay

  • Once you reach SF from the Golden Gate Bridge, take the exit toward 25th Avenue.
  • From here, merge onto Merchant Road.
  • Take a right onto Lincoln Boulevard.
  • Turn left onto Kobbe Avenue.
  • Take a right onto Park Boulevard and follow the signs to the Main Post.

Driving from the South Bay

  • Take 101 into the city and follow the signs to the Octavia exit.
  • Take this until it dead-ends at Fell and take a left turn.
  • Take a right on Webster.
  • Take a left on Geary.
  • Take a right onto Arguello.
  • This will take you into the park. From here, follow the signs to the Main Post.

Driving from the East Bay

  • On the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge, take the Fremont Street exit into downtown.
  • This will curve you around to the left and take you north.
  • Follow this until you hit Pine Street.
  • At Pine, take a left and drive all the way to Presidio Avenue.
  • Take a right on Presidio Avenue and this will take you into the Presidio.
  • From here, follow the signs to the Main Post.

Other Activities this Weekend

Carnaval Festival: Another popular event on Memorial Day weekend in SF is the two-day Carnaval Festival. In the Mission District, this event features Latin and South American food, dancing, live music, and more. Click here for more details.

SF Bay Cruises: You will find a variety cruise options all weekend long. Some of the top options are the 60-minute bay cruise which runs several times a day, every day. There is also the high speed adventure cruise called the Rocketboat. In addition, there are usually one of two specialty cruises for Memorial Day Weekend. Find availability during your stay.

All Memorial Day Weekend Events: In addition to these events, you will find other great activities all weekend long in SF. Click here for the full Memorial Day Weekend calendar.

Details from Previous Years

This year, there will not be a parade, but it's been a highlight in pervious years. It was through the Presidio started at 10:30 am. It began at the Main Post (on Anza between Sheridan and Lincoln Boulevard) and ends at the National Cemetery.

Every year, it started with the 191st Army Band followed by veterans organizations and distinguished guests. The parade lasted about 30 minutes.

These are just some of my pictures from this parade from previous years.

Veterans walking with flags at the beginning of the Memorial Day Parade.
A classic car in the Memorial Day event in SF
SF's 191st Army Band at the National Cemetery
Classic Cars in the Presidio's National Cemetery


A great way to learn more about the National Cemetery is by taking one of the tours. After the official program, National Park Rangers and Docents offer guided tours about the history of this interesting cemetery. The tours usually start shortly after noon.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

Memorial Day Celebration Pin

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