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Changes for Memorial Day ceremonies at cemeteries amid COVID-19

COVID-19 health regulations have either forced cancellations, limited access or there are virtual ceremonies.

SAN DIEGO — Memorial Day in San Diego County is traditionally filled with gatherings to remember military service members, however, health guidelines are now restricting many of the honorary ceremonies.

“If we put it in perspective, the veterans and anyone in service never took a break, and no matter what pandemic we have they were at the forefront,” said Luisa McCarthy, La Vista Memorial Park and Mortuary co-owner.

The National City cemetery and mortuary has turned its Memorial Day ceremony for Pearl Harbor survivors and picnic to a drive-thru. Individuals will decorate their cars in patriotic spirit. The ceremony will be led by Grand Marshal Pearl Harbor survivor 98-year-old Stuart “Stu” Headley.

“We are doing the best we can with what we have to work with,” said McCarthy.

Fort Rosecrans and Miramar National Cemeteries, U.S.S. Midway Museum, Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial are joining together for a virtual Memorial Day Live.

At Greenwood Memorial Park and Mortuary, the Boys Scouts and Girls Scouts usually mark each graveside with an American flag but this year it will be done by volunteers. Monday’s wreath laying ceremony inside the Salli Lynn Chapel has been moved to the POW memorial with 10-15 American Legion Post-6 veterans.

“We decided to keep it small and just advise out of respect for the members of American Legion Post-6,” said Desmond Fields, Location Manager at Greenwood Memorial Park and Mortuary.

The ceremony will be the 99th year, and they wanted to continue the tradition to reach 100 years in 2021.

“We will have many visitors out in the park, we just won't be able to bring together like we would like to,” said Fields.

During COVID-19, visitations are allowed but the Department of Veterans Affairs created a Roll of Honor, listing their names, branch of service and cemetery of veterans interred without a committal ceremony during the pandemic. 

As of May 20, there were 97 veterans buried at Fort Rosecrans and Mirarmar National Cemeteries. The V.A. stated once the crisis passes families will be able to properly say goodbye in a customary honor.

Many said we may be paying tribute to our service members in a different way, but our honor and pride for service members who died while serving our country have not.

“No pandemic or anything else that may come our way would stop us from giving them our honor that they deserve,” said McCarthy.

If you have information about Memorial Day services please e-mail yourstories@kfmb.com

Memorial Day Live: 

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Miramar National Cemetery, U.S.S. Midway Museum, Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial. Each location will hold approximately 15-minute commemorations that will be seamlessly streamed live on Memorial Day from 9 to 10 a.m. at www.sandiegomemorialdaylive.com

The simulcast will flow from Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery to the Mt. Soledad National Memorial to the Miramar National Cemetery to the USS Midway Museum and briefly back to the Miramar National Cemetery for conclusion. 

The commemorations are not open to the public.

La Vista Memorial Park & Mortuary:

Memorial Day drive-thru parade from 1 p.m. to 3p.m. 

Decorate Your Car and Drive Through La Vista’s Memorial Park To Show Your Patriotic Spirit. 

Featuring, Grand Marshal, Stuary “Stu” Headley.USS West Virginia, Pearl Harbor Veteran WWII and Korean War; 82nd Airborne Division San Diego Chapter, Alfonso Calderon, Rick Salde and Norm Vanderbilt, All Vietnam War veterans who served with distinction with the

US Army 82nd and 101st, Airborne Divisions, Letitia Coxe Shelby Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Display of Vietnam Wall, Irene Hobbs, Debbie Williams, Vikki Grieshaber, Daughters of Union Veteran’s of Civil War 1861-1865, Kathleen Winchester, Susan Zimmer, Jane Zoch, Patriotic Music.

Greenwood Memorial Park & Mortuary: 

Visitations allowed but Memorial Day ceremony is closed to the public