Social distancing rules force cancellation of annual event
By Sam Catanzaro
Los Angeles National Cemetery will not hold a Memorial Day flag event this year due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“I am sorry to announce that the scheduled May 23, 2020 LA Cemetery Memorial Day Flag Placement event has been canceled. At this time gatherings of this size are not permitted in the state of California. Right now the Cemetery is only open to families and limited visits are allowed,” wrote David Goldenberg Western Los Angeles County Council, Boys Scouts of America Chair in a Facebook post. “We are sad that we will not be able to honor our nation’s hero’s this year.”
According to Goldenberg, there will be a video presentation shared via the WLACC council website that highlights the event over the years.
In a statment, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) said it is committed to observing Memorial Day 2020 in a manner that honors those who sacrificed their lives while protecting public health and safety. According to the NCA, all 142 VA national cemeteries will be open for visitation throughout the Memorial Day weekend. Families and friends are welcome to place flowers or individual flags at Veterans’ gravesites. Cemetery visitors are asked to adhere to CDC, state and local health and safety guidelines and local travel restrictions.
“The health and safety of visitors, Veterans, volunteers and team members must be our primary consideration at this time. NCA made the difficult decision to not host public events for Memorial Day, including the mass placement and retrieval of gravesite flags by any groups. NCA relies largely on volunteers for placement and retrieval of gravesite flags for Memorial Day and these activities attract thousands of volunteers annually. Limiting the number of volunteers is not practical. Cemetery staff will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony to officially commemorate Memorial Day. While we cannot extend an invitation to the public to attend due to health and safety concerns, NCA will share pictures of the event,” the NCA said in a statement.