NATIONWIDE – Memorial Day is less than a week away and for many Americans, the day of remembrance will look different because of COVID-19 precautions.
What You Need To Know
- Memorial Day is May 25
- Cemeteries maintained by the VA will be open
- Wreath laying ceremonies will be closed to the public
According to Military.com, while all 142 national cemeteries maintained by the VA will be open on the holiday weekend, visitors will be asked follow health and safety guidelines including social distancing.
Visitors are also being asked to try and visit gravesites on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday if possible in order to avoid large crowds on the holiday.
Wreath laying ceremonies will be conducted at VA cemeteries but those ceremonies will not be open to the public. Additionally, groups that normally place flags on graves during the holiday weekend are not being allowed to do so. The VA’s office says on its website families and friends are welcome to leave flowers and flags on individual graves.
For those that either aren’t able to visit a VA cemetery or choose not to, Military.com suggests keeping an eye on VA's National Cemetery Administration's social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. There, the administration is planning on livestreaming and posting photos of some ceremonies.
Other cemeteries though are deciding to keep their doors closed to everyone but family members on the holiday.
Most notably Arlington National Cemetery, a facility that is maintained by the Army, will only be allowing pass-holding family members to enter and visit the gravesites of their loved ones.
COVID-19 isn’t just affecting Memorial Day plans, though— it’s also affecting how some veterans are being laid to rest.
Under normal circumstances, veterans interred at national cemeteries are given committal services and funeral honors. But because of the novel coronavirus, those ceremonies are on hold.
According to the VA, the administration is still interring veterans but is planning on scheduling ceremonies with families once the crisis is over.
In the meantime, the VA has a website set up where every day it is putting the names of vets who have been interred since the pandemic took hold in the U.S.
So far hundreds of names have been added to the list.