Vermonters observe altered Memorial Day traditions

Published: May. 25, 2020 at 3:40 PM EDT
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Vermonters Monday honored those who gave their lives in service to the country. But amidst a global pandemic, Memorial Day took a different tone, with social-distancing making it nearly impossible to hold ceremonies and parades that are staples of the holiday.

Millions of Americans Monday took time to remember the men and women who gave their life in service to their country. At the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph Center, Delina Loati spent the day with her late husband, Ronald, who served in the Army National Guard for 41 years.

"I was here a week ago for what would have been my 62nd anniversary," Loati said. "He liked his Guard, he liked his Army."

But in the age of COVID-19 and widespread cancellations, this Memorial Day took on new meaning. In addition to mourning lives lost in the armed services, there are also the nearly 100,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus.

"I just hope because of this it doesn't get forgotten in later years, seeing so many people can't get out and do things -- we just don't forget our veterans," Loati said.

Many towns and organizations turned to virtual ceremonies to protect older veterans and family members. But many Vermonters still showed up in person to pay their respects.

"For those who served and sacrificed, who paid the ultimate price to keep us free and everybody else free in the USA," said Brian Parrotte of Charlestown, New Hampshire.

But even with the pandemic, some say there is a silver lining. Robert Burke, the director of Vermont Veterans Affairs, says the widespread event cancellations provide a unique opportunity. "Instead of getting bogged down with the pomp and circumstance of parades and cookouts, we can instead reflect on Americans' sacrifices and what it means to be free," Burke said.