Memorial Day Celebrations Get Innovative Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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Memorial Day is celebrated annually on the last Monday of May (Credit: .publicdomainpictures.net/CC0)

Memorial Day celebrations usually involve parades, flag ceremonies, and other formal public recognitions to honor the brave men and women of the American Armed Forces who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. This includes those in the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. However, the COVID-19 pandemic social distancing requirement is causing American cities and towns to cancel the beloved traditions and find new ways to honor their fallen heroes. Here are a few innovative festivities planned for the holiday, which will be observed on May 25, 2020.

The American Legion Post 184 in Wildwood, New Jersey, has partnered with the local police and fire department to stage a drive-by parade. On Sunday, May 24, 2020, the first responders will drive through the town and also pass by the homes of residents who have signed up to participate in the event. Locals can also enter a contest to create a patriotic scene around their home. The winner of the display, which will be judged by the police and firefighters, will win a $100 Visa gift card. Kids can also participate in the commemoration by downloading Memorial Day coloring pages and activities, which include a short paragraph outlining "What Patriotism Means To Me," from the veteran organization's website. Those that submit completed worksheets will receive a thank you note from a veteran and an American flag.

"The true meaning of Memorial Day is commonly forgotten," said Commander of Post 184 Harry Weimar. "We hope these learning opportunities and the parade experience will make everyone remember 'freedom isn't free,' especially the next generation."

Memorial Day honors all US military personnel who have died in combat (Credit: www.military.com)

The residents of Illinois's DuPage County will celebrate the occasion by sharing stories, photos, and memories to honor loved ones or friends on a new interactive website created by the officials. The site will also include poems, quotes, and videos, including one in which "Taps" — the melody used at military funerals and memorial services — is being performed at Arlington National Cemetery and another explaining the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument.

"While we may not be able to gather in person this year, we are united in our desire to honor DuPage men and women who gave their lives while serving as members of the US Armed Forces," said DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.

Meanwhile, in Coronado, California, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization plans to create a televised version of its popular Memorial Day tribute, held annually at the city's Star Park. The half-hour program, which will be aired on local television stations on May 25, 2020, will include clips from past Star Park presentations, as well as pay tribute to local military personnel who have died in the line of duty.

"We find ourselves in a strange and different time," said VFW Commander Chuck Lucas, who also serves annually as the Master-of-Ceremonies for Memorial Day events. "Thanks to the generosity of the City of Coronado, we will be able to continue this year in the age-old tradition of honoring our fallen warriors. We think the presentation will be enjoyed by an even larger audience, and we have been working hard with the very talented folks at City Hall to create what we hope will be a unique, memorable, and special tribute."

The Difference Between Memorial Day And Veterans Day

Though both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, which is celebrated annually on November 11, honor American military personnel, the holidays serve different purposes. While Memorial Day honors all US soldiers who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in combat, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American soldiers — both living and dead. Its primary purpose, however, is to thank living veterans for their service and sacrifices.

Veterans Day and Memorial Day both honor US military personnel (Credit: www.americanflags.com)

Memorial Day History

General John A. Logan organized the first national celebration to honor America's fallen heroes on May 30, 1868. The Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic hoped "Decoration Day" would help improve the strained relations between the Northern and Southern states following the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Logan marked the occasion by placing American flags and flowers on the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Though the Northern states embraced the idea, residents of the Southern states continued to honor their fallen soldiers on different days. While they did adopt the holiday after it was extended to recognize the soldiers killed in World War I, many Southern states continue to celebrate Confederate Heroes Day on June 3, to pay tribute to the 258,000 Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Memorial Day can be celebrated in numerous ways from the comfort of your home (Credit: Mortuary..com)

In 1968, the US Congress declared, what was now known as Memorial Day, to be a federal holiday. The lawmakers also moved the date to the last Monday of May. While this allowed Americans to enjoy a three-day weekend, it also diminished the holiday's significance. Most people began regarding Memorial Day, as the unofficial start of summer and spent it firming vacation plans, attending or hosting barbecues, and lazing around pools. Retailers, meanwhile, took advantage of the holiday to boost their sales by offering significant discounts. Dismayed by the turn of events, US President Bill Clinton passed "The National Moment of Remembrance Act" in December 2000. The law urges Americans to honor all fallen heroes by observing a minute of silence at 3:00 pm (local time).

So this Memorial Day be sure to take a break from whatever fun activities you are engaged in to pay your respects to the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives to ensure your safety and freedom.

Happy Memorial Day!

Resources: wikipedia.org, coronadotimes.com, www.nj.com, abc7chicago.com

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122 Comments
  • amazing-grace
    amazing-graceWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 3:08 pm
    cool, my dad is in the military to.
    • galaxyninja
      galaxyninjaWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 11:12 am
      my great grandpa wanted to fight in world war 2 bu he couldnt hear that well so they didnt let him
      • 2033275
        2033275Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 11:56 am
        my grandpa is a marine
        • animereina25
          animereina25Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 2:32 pm
          Cool! My dad is still in the army, but my mom decided that she didn't want to do it anymore because I was just a baby and she couldn't just leave me. She is now working hard to become a doctor!
          • lukykid123
            lukykid123Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 9:10 am
            My great-grandpa served in wwll and my grandpa was in the army
            • live4llamaz
              live4llamazWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 7:33 am
              nice! unfouruently my grandfather just passed (not from covid) but he was in the army. he used to fix helicoptors but then he started fighting!
              • amazing-grace
                amazing-graceWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 3:08 pm
                awsome
                • animereina25
                  animereina25Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 9:11 am
                  That's cool! Well, I want to thank him for serving in the army!
            • awesome1184
              awesome1184Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 7:18 am
              hopefully next year we wont be celebrating the solders that have died from covid 19 :(
              • galaxyninja
                galaxyninjaWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 11:15 am
                yeah i really want life back to normal and i want no more people die 😥😪😓😭😨😰
              • janan10
                janan10Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 5:01 am
                And thank you who have passed away and others who are steel alive that have fought for our country and risking your life fighting to keep us safe but some of you guys are remembered and some of you aren't but thank you so much for what you've done for our country you left your home brave and confident but then came home injured and different but what you've done is great
                • janan10
                  janan10Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 4:49 am
                  I have two people but they passed away but the sad thing was that my great great uncle had died after Christmas whenever get I was little he was a good guy happy memorial day
                  • stormtroopster
                    stormtroopsterMonday, May 25, 2020 at 1:13 pm
                    My dad served in the military
                    • stormtroopster
                      stormtroopsterMonday, May 25, 2020 at 1:11 pm
                      Thank you to everyone who died serving our country
                      • animereina25
                        animereina25Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 12:39 pm
                        Our heroes aren't just superman or any other super hero, it is the real ones! They were the ones that actually took action, and even knew that they were going to die, but did it for the people and their land. Now that is a real hero! If you have a parent, sister or brother, or ANYONE that has served, please thank them. They deserve so much more. But what I really want to know is if any of y'all have an elderly (grandma or grandpa, or great grandma or great grandpa, or any elderly u know) that has fought in a war. Now that would be cool! I hope that you guys are staying safe, and that you have a great memorial day!
                        • live4llamaz
                          live4llamazWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 7:34 am
                          My grandfather served!
                          • animereina25
                            animereina25Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 6:26 am
                            Happy Memorial Day!
                          • ohiost8
                            ohiost8Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 4:33 am
                            Stay safe