Memorial Day to Honor War Dead and COVID Victims

Monday is Memorial Day in the United States – a day set aside to honor the hundreds of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives for their country.  The holiday is also the unofficial start of the summer vacation season in the U.S., and like so much in 2020, the usual will be unusual. The flags that are flying at half-staff across the country to honor those service members will, under President Donald Trump’s orders, also be flying for the nearly 100,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the coronavirus, the world’s highest death toll from the disease by far.  They include more than 1,000 veterans who the Department of Veterans Affairs says have died from COVID-19. Trump plans to place a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and then spend part of the rest of his Memorial Day at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where a historic battle in the War of 1812 was fought.To kick off the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, ships from around the world sailed past Fort McHenry and exchanged canon fire with re-enactors on land, but it was all for show. (S. Logue/VOA)But Baltimore Mayor Jack Young pleaded with the president not to come, saying it sends the wrong message when the mayor has urged Baltimoreans not to travel. Trump has refused to wear masks in public, and Young says Trump’s visit is not essential.  Health experts and local authorities are urging people heading to the beaches and holiday picnics and cookouts to practice social distancing.  White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx says she is “very concerned” by the pictures and video she has been seeing all weekend of people crowded together at swimming pools and other recreation sites without masks. “We know being outside does help, we know the sun does help in killing the virus, but that doesn’t change the fact that people need to be responsible and maintain that distance,” she told Fox News Sunday. “I was hoping to convey this very clear message to the American people across the country: There is a virus out there.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday his state is “decidedly in the reopening phase.” New York has been the hardest-hit state in the U.S. But Cuomo said overall, the numbers in New York are heading in the right direction. Among the reopenings in New York state this week are campgrounds, veterinarian offices, and professional sports training camps.  With the city’s two major league baseball teams – the Mets and the Yankees — idle, Cuomo said having sports back is like “a return to normalcy.” But it is still unclear when Major League Baseball – one of summertime’s great traditions – will be playing again or if fans will be allowed to go to the games.  France will start lifting border restrictions Monday to allow in migrant workers and tourists from other European countries.  Italian beaches remain restricted to those who live in the region where the beach is located.  And in Britain officials are urging people who don’t live in their community to stay away from their beaches. One sign in Brighton says, “Wish you were here — but not just yet.” 

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