Memorial Day cancellations hit Central Texas communities amid pandemic

Posted at 9:36 AM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 10:36:08-04

Virtual visitations and canceled events will make this Memorial Day different. The pandemic is impacting military families from Arlington National Cemetery to Central Texas.

When you ask Brazos Valley Veteran Bob Cohen what Memorial Day means to him, you can feel pain and passion.

"It means to me, a way to honor those individuals who sacrificed," he said.

Each year 1,000 flags are placed on the graves of the patriots who fought for it at the College Station Cemetery. But the Brazos Valley Chapter of the National Sojourners will not gather this year with the large group of volunteers.

"This is only the second time in those 30 years that we have not placed those flags," said Cohen.

The Central Texas VA also canceling its Waco Memorial Day program. They tell 25 News, carnations and wreaths will be placed at the Waco and Temple memorials but not in a public event.

"A lot of these men died and gave their life with that flag in their hand," said Korean War Veteran Stanley Larson.

Memorial Day ceremonies at VA National Cemeteries are canceled across the country too. The cemeteries will be open from dawn till dusk for visitation but Arlington National Cemetery, which usually sees a crowd of thousands, will only open to family pass holders and a virtual visitation will be offered.

"We don't forget the nurses and the doctors. We don't forget the policemen. Why do we forget our fallen heroes," said Larson.

But Cohen says he won't forget and he doesn't want the community to either.

"Fly a flag on your porch or your house. If you have a loved one, go to the cemetery and place a flag. We always want to honor those who gave their life for the freedom of this country," said Cohen.

The City of Harker Heights will also host an online Memorial Day Remembrance Program instead of its in-person ceremony. Citizens are encouraged to send a picture of their loved one to be posted on the tribute page for fallen service members. The deadline is Thursday, May 21, 2020.

If interested, submit a single photo, rank and full name and service date to nbroemer@harkerheights.gov. A link to the tribute page will be on the Harker Heights Memorial Day Rememberance website at www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/memorialday. On the city's Facebook page citizens can watch an online Memorial Day Remembrance program starting at 10:00 am on Monday, May 25.

A National Moment of Remembrance is at 3:00 pm. Americans are asked to pause for one minute to remember those who have died in military service.