The COVID-19 pandemic has forced cemeteries and other organizations to modify how to commemorate those in uniform who gave their lives for their country during Memorial Day.
For example, Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, is closed to the public — with the exception of family members who have loved ones buried there. And although the 142 Veterans Affairs national cemeteries will remain open to the public, the National Cemetery Administration will not host any public events at these cemeteries.
But despite social distancing requirements, multiple organizations and groups are continuing to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in some way. Here is a list of events happening virtually over the weekend to honor Memorial Day, all times Eastern:
Department of Defense: President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will visit Arlington National Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Monday to remember those who lost their lives serving their country. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley and several other senior government and defense officials will also be present. Those interested in viewing the wreath-laying ceremony can watch on www.defense.gov.
United States Navy Memorial: United States Navy Memorial is holding a virtual wreath-laying ceremony this Memorial Day at the Navy Memorial plaza in Washington, D.C.. Speakers include retired Rear Adm. Frank Thorp IV, president & CEO at the United States Navy Memorial; Rear Adm. Carl Lahti, commandant of Naval District Washington; and Navy chaplain Cmdr. Pratik Ray. The event is slated for Monday, May 25 at 1 p.m. and is available to view here.
Friends of the National World War II Memorial: Friends of the National World War II Memorial will be sharing pre-recorded remarks observing Memorial Day via Facebook on Monday, followed by a brief, virtual wreath-laying ceremony at the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall. Speakers will include Josiah Bunting III, chairman of the Friends of the National World War II Memorial; Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks; and Roberta Nolan, whose father 1st Lt. James O’Boyle Lyons was taken prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge and died in May 1945. The pre-recorded remarks will be aired on Facebook at 9 a.m., and the wreath-laying ceremony will follow at 9:30 a.m. also via Facebook.
The National WWI Museum and Memorial: The National WWI Museum and Memorial is holding multiple virtual events on Monday to commemorate Memorial Day. First, the museum and memorial are holding a ceremony featuring speakers, including Sen. Jerry Moran from Kansas, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II also from Kansas. The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday. Additionally, a bell tolling ceremony is also scheduled for 1 p.m., using a bell that the Daughters of the American Revolution wrung each day from 1917-1918. Lastly, the museum is livestreaming its biannual Walk of Honor Dedication Ceremony at 3 p.m. to dedicate 100 new Walk of Honor granite bricks at the museum. The bricks are dedicated to those who served in WWI, and veterans from all branches of the military. All events can be viewed here.
JWB Jewish Chaplains Council: The JWB Jewish Chaplains Council is launching the first National Jewish Community Observance of Memorial Day to recognize Jewish commitment to the military on Monday. Speakers include retired Navy Capt. Rabbi Irving Elson, director of the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council; Rear Adm. Jeffrey Jablon, director of Military Personnel, Plans and Policies; and multiple Gold Star families. Additionally, there will be a performance from the Combined United States Naval Academy Glee Club. You can watch the event at 1 p.m. on Facebook here.
Ancestry Parade of Heroes: Ancestry has partnered with groups including HISTORY®, Wounded Warrior Project, The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation, Heroes of the Second World War and TAPS to hold a virtual “Parade of Heroes” event on Monday to commemorate Memorial Day and also the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. Television personality Kathie Lee Gifford will host the virtual “watch party,” and the event will feature veteran speakers such as Army veteran Dan Nevins, who lost both legs from the knee down while serving in Iraq in 2004 during a combat mission. Nevins is now a professional speaker and a Baptiste yoga teacher, and is passionate about using yoga to help treat “invisible wounds of war” among veterans. Viewers can watch the “Parade of Heroes” on Ancestry’s Facebook page at 11 a.m.
National Memorial Day Concert: PBS is still airing a National Memorial Day Concert this year on Sunday, May 24. Retired Army Gen. and former White House National Security Adviser Colin Powell will make an appearance, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley is slated to deliver a special message. Performances will feature members from the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus, the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, among others. In addition to airing on PBS, the concert will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube, and PBS’s website here at 8 p.m.