Following the announcement Thursday that the county will remain under a stay-at-home order through June 4, local veterans have announced the cancellation of traditional Memorial Day observances in Huntingdon.
The Frank P. Hommon American Legion Post 24 has made the decision cancel both the annual parade and services that traditionally follow at War Vets Field due to health risks related to COVID-19.
This year’s events were planned for May 25.
“Basically we got extended and we’re still in the red until June. We sat together as a committee and had to make a really hard decision, especially because the community could use something to lift their spirits now more than ever,” said post commander Adam Steele.
Most of the drivers and the majority of the Legion’s members, including the color guard, are considered at higher risk for COVID-19.
“We started thinking about logistics, getting the classic cars, having isolated people picked up and driving people down the road. A lot of the drivers said they just can’t do it because they’re at risk,” said Steele.
“We were talking with the mayor (Dave Wessels) to see if it’s possible to pull it off and we held off as long as we could. As much as we want to, we can’t say at this point we’ll be in a better position by May 25, not to mention there wouldn’t be a school band with school out.”
Steele and his comrades aren’t the only ones who have made the decision to cancel formal services. It was announced this week services at the Cassville Cemetery are canceled. And, while services were planned at the Baptist Cemetery of Trough Creek Valley, organizers told The Daily News those, too, would be canceled if the county stay-at-home order was still in place May 25.
Despite no parade or services, Steele emphasized folks should still remember the meaning of Memorial Day and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country in a responsible manner. He is asking, weather permitting, for residents to step outside their homes at 11 a.m. Monday, May 25, for a moment of silence to honor our fallen veterans.
In the meantime, the Legion has been encouraging buddy checks among veterans at a time when many are isolated.
“We want veterans to call veterans to make sure they’re alright,” said Steele. “We feel buddy checks should be for everyone. It’s important to call your loved ones to make sure they’re feeling OK.”
Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.