With no parades, barbecues or other large gatherings to honor those who died serving their country, Memorial Day 2020 during the novel coronavirus pandemic is going to look very different.
But the American Legion and the Boy Scouts are doing what they can to keep some traditions going.
Following proper social distancing guidelines and wearing masks, local Boy Scout troops will distribute flags to the graves of veterans on Saturday morning at Fairview Cemetery.
The barbecue that traditionally follows and the small speech beforehand will be skipped, said Troop 104 Cubmaster Dave Storey.
“Even though we’re outdoors and believe we can maintain social distancing, out of respect for everybody, anybody over the age of 2 is required to wear a mask,” Storey said. “Once they’ve put up the flags in their section, the family will leave.”
Storey said 21 families volunteered to distribute flags. Half will arrive at 9 a.m., with the other half an hour later. Scouts will be assigned graves to visit, which differs from most years.
“We talked briefly to see if we could viably do it,” Storey said. “In the past, we’ve had a big gathering and the American Legion commander gives a brief speech. Then kind of says go. Take some flags and go find some military graves.”
Storey said the participation rate among the troops – which will be Packs 104 and 131 along with Troop 4 – is about on par with previous years.
“Honestly I don’t know that it’s that much less than a normal year,” Storey said. “I think participation rates are similar to what they’ve been in the past. It’s slight,y down but I think that’s more our inability to connect and physically meet with people the last two months.”
The VA is not allowing gatherings at national cemeteries this year but private ones can make allow gatherings in accordance to local regulations.
Storey said it was important to participate in some kind of an event to honor Memorial Day. Not only for the importance of remembering those who served he said, but for the sake of the children during a pandemic as well.
“On a slightly lower it’s not a return to normalcy, but something we’ve always done that we’ll be able to still do,” Storey said. “So much in our kids’ lives has been turned upside down. I think it’s important there’s something they can do that’s not in their home.”
Dan Gallagher, commander of the DeKalb American Legion, said this year is going to be very different.
“You have all the students and organizations in the parade, it is a big community thing,” Gallagher said. “Lincoln Highway would be filled all the way to the Ellwood House. The mayor would speak, the park district board president would speak. It’s very, very unusual.”
Gallagher said he hopes there will be another opportunity at some point during the summer to hold a ceremony, but the uncertainty makes any plans impossible.
“I think we’re just going to end up doing this at another date,” Gallagher said. “I’m hoping we can figure something out. I don’t want to say Flag Day or Fourth of July, but I think we should try to do something unless this is just an asterisk this year.”
Even though he said he believes social distancing can be maintained, Storey said the troops, as well as anyone else at the cemetery older than 2 years old, will wear a mask.
He said it fits in with the seventh of the 12 Boy Scout Laws, obedience.
“It’s the law of the land right now,” Storey said. “So we’re going to teach our kids to follow it and go from there.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle