US Cities Plan to Honor Fallen Service Members Remotely on Memorial Day 

With the coronavirus pandemic still a threat, this year’s Memorial Day holiday will look different from those of the past, as cities across the United States host ceremonies on virtual platforms to uphold the tradition of commemorating fallen service members.  Many towns around the country, such as Woodland Park, New Jersey; and San Clemente, California, have said that they will honor America’s fallen military and law enforcement heroes with virtual Memorial Day ceremonies. “Honoring our fallen heroes will always be a priority,” the Borough of Woodland Park said in a statement. Officials in both cities cite fears of spreading the coronavirus at large public gatherings for their decisions to transition events online.  Other cities, such as Antigo, Wisconsin, will be holding Memorial Day parades, but with requests for safety precautions such as masks and social distancing.  A man looks for a grave while visiting Leavenworth National Cemetery, May 23, 2020 in Leavenworth, Kan.Organizers of larger national celebrations and ceremonies have also decided to host their events remotely, foregoing live audiences. The PBS National Memorial Day Concert, traditionally held live on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, is just one of many large concerts altering its format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  “In this unprecedented time, when the nation needs it most, we will bring Americans together as one family to honor our heroes,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This has been the mission of the National Memorial Day Concert for 30 years, and we look forward to sharing stories and music of support, hope, resilience and patriotism.” The 2020 National Memorial Day Concert will be livestreamed on PBS.org, YouTube and Facebook. 
 
Similarly, instead of hosting a Memorial Day celebration at the Vietnam War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) will be holding FILE – With the Washington Monument in the background, people visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington on May 27, 2016, on the start of the Memorial Day weekend.The organization is also encouraging those attending the ceremony to share who they will be remembering this Memorial Day by writing a personal message or recording a video message on the VVMF website.  This Memorial Day, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) will hold their annual moment of silence to commemorate and honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty.  
 
“Any loss of a service member is a tragedy, but the loss of a veteran to suicide is not only tragic, it is completely preventable,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “The pandemic has spiked overall mental health challenges, making COVID-19 a recipe for disaster for our veterans. This Memorial Day, we urge all Americans to #GoSilent in honor of those we have already lost and stand with us to protect those who have sacrificed so much to protect us.” Memorial Day is one of the first holidays to be celebrated during the coronavirus pandemic, setting a precedent of what is to be expected for future festivities that will take place during the crisis. 


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