Memorial Day during the coronavirus pandemic was short on parades but still long on honoring those who died while serving in the nation’s military.
American flags dotted veterans gravesites and were displayed at homes and many other places.
At commemorations such as one in Hudson’s Markillie Cemetery, silk poppies — a tradition that dates to World War I — were handed out. The city’s annual parade was canceled because of the COVID-19 viral outbreak. In Green, which also canceled its parade, people used chalk to decorate and write short messages on the sidewalks along its flag-decorated parade route.
Brian and Virginia Pillsbury attended the Hudson services for the first time. Their grandson, Zachary Ramsey, was one of two people who performed taps at the program’s end. The couple, who were high school sweethearts in Jamestown, New York, said they enjoyed the 20-minute program put together by the Hudson American Legion and Auxiliary, Lee-Bishop Post 464.
"Very moving," Brian said. "It’s moving, isn’t it? We have two high school friends on the wall."
By that, Pillsbury meant the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where those friends, Timothy Olson and Fred Verry, are among the more than 58,000 names inscribed on the black granite wall there. Olson and Verry, both in the Army, were killed in the late 1960s in Vietnam, the couple said.
The Pillsburys, like many of the 35 or so people at the service, wore face masks to the Hudson cemetery.
"It’s a bit unusual," Brian said.
"We can do it," Virginia said.
Cindy Suchan-Rothgery, president of the Hudson Legion Auxiliary, presided over the ceremony.
Normally, she noted, she wouldn’t be there because her primary responsibility in previous years was to organize the Memorial Day parade, which typically means missing the parade’s end at the cemetery.
"It was a little different not having the parade," Suchan-Rothgery said.
The cemetery event was not open to the public to reduce the chances of exposing large numbers of people to the virus. But it was recorded, from the singing of the national anthem, flag raising, prayer, laying of memorial wreaths and more to the playing of taps, and will be televised for the Hudson community on Hudson Community Television.
"Everybody will be able to see it," Suchan-Rothgery said. "It’s important."
The service commemorates people who sacrificed their lives, she said.
"Everybody leaves behind someone," she said.
Jim Garrison, adjutant in the Legion post, said while the virus changed things, Monday’s program was a success. People for the most part wore masks, didn’t shake hands, and tried to maintain social distancing.
"I liked it," Garrison said. "I thought it was short, sweet and to the point."
While the parade was canceled, there was always going to be some sort of Memorial Day commemoration during the pandemic, Garrison said.
"Some things like this, you just do it," he said.
Jim Mackinnon covers business. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.