Memorial Day calls for citizens to come together and remember the soldiers who died in defense of their country. But physically coming together is discouraged right now, thanks to COVID-19.
The annual ceremonies and gatherings around Clark County will look different over this holiday weekend — events have been moved online, scaled down or canceled.
Those looking to participate in the county’s largest Memorial Day event can still do so remotely. Vancouver’s Memorial Day Observance, which usually draws spectators to the Parade Ground near Fort Vancouver, will be recognized with a prerecorded broadcast on Clark/Vancouver Television at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday. The broadcast will include remarks by Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Superintendent Tracy Fortmann and Gold Star Mother Meredick McMackin. Larry Smith and Mike Burton, leaders of the local Community Military Appreciation Committee, will also feature in the remote ceremony.
The keynote speaker will be Brig. Gen. Donna Prigmore, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard. All of the speakers recorded their contributions separately.
“The coronavirus pandemic prevents us from gathering this year together as we normally would, but consistent with guidance from national, state, and local public health authorities, we are safely observing Memorial Day,” Fortmann said in a statement.
“By videotaping speakers’ remarks this year from different locations, we are responsibly doing our part for our community, our health care heroes, other front-line workers and first responders, and those who are vulnerable.”
The broadcast will also include music prerecorded by 204th Army Band, Vancouver Firefighters Pipes & Drums, Vancouver Police Department, and VFW Post 7824 Honor Guard.
CVTV is available to Comcast cable TV customers and on the web at https://www.cvtv.org. The program is sponsored by Waste Connections.
“Although not the public event and living history re-enactment we have enjoyed in the past, we still have an opportunity to show our respect and support for the men and women of our armed forces,” Smith said.
Other Memorial Day events
The Willamette National Cemetery will be open for visitation during daylight hours all of Memorial Day Weekend. However, the usual ceremonies, such a group placement of flags at gravesites, will not occur this year. The cancellation is consistent with a decision from the National Cemetery Association, who announced that no public events will be hosted in connection with Memorial Day.
Loved ones of veterans buried at the cemetery can place flowers and flags at gravesites.
“Willamette National Cemetery is committed to observing Memorial Day 2020 in a manner that honors those who sacrificed for our nation while protecting the health and safety of visitors and our team members,” Willamette National Cemetery Director Peter Sardo said in a press release.
Visitors should adhere to social distancing regulations and wear face masks. Sardo also urged people to consider visiting on Friday, Saturday or Sunday to avoid possible crowds on Memorial Day.
The Willamette National Cemetery is located at 11800 S.E. Mt. Scott Blvd., in Happy Valley, Ore.
The annual ceremony usually held at the Battle Ground Veterans Memorial in Kiwanis Park is canceled.
“However, we are indeed commemorating the day and remembering those who died in service to our country,” Bonnie Gilberti, Battle Ground’s city spokeswoman, wrote in an email to The Columbian.
At 11 a.m. Monday, a memorial video will play on the city’s Facebook page, facebook.com/CityofBGWA.
Representatives from the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars will hold a small wreath-laying ceremony at Camas Cemetery “with minimal volunteers to meet social distancing guidelines,” the city wrote on its Facebook page.
Visitors may come to the cemetery, but they’re asked to avoid groups and maintain 6 feet of distance between people from other households. The restrooms will remain closed.
The 2020 Memorial Day ceremony at the Washougal Memorial Cemetery is canceled.
“We look forward to commemorating this day in 2021,” cemetery staff wrote in an announcement posted to Facebook on April 20.