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Veterans Affairs not allowing groups to place flags at veterans’ graves on Memorial Day

(WKOW) -- A Memorial Day weekend tradition that honors veterans has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Veteran's Affairs announced last week it will prohibit public events at national cemeteries during the holiday weekend. That includes groups placing flags at gravesites.

Families may continue the tradition of placing flowers and small American flags at their Veteran’s gravesite. 

“This year, by necessity, will be different from past Memorial Day observances,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “While the department can’t hold large public ceremonies, VA will still honor Veterans and service members with the solemn dignity and respect they have earned through their service and sacrifice.” 

Each VA national cemetery will conduct a brief wreath-laying ceremony, accompanied by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps. In keeping with CDC guidelines to limit large gatherings, the ceremonies will not be open to the public. 

VA will also be launching a new way for the public to pay tributes to Veterans at the Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM). The site, originally launched in 2019, contains a memorial page for each Veteran and service member interred in a VA national cemetery. Starting Thursday, May 14, VLM will permit online visitors to leave a comment of tribute on a Veteran’s page, introducing a new way to observe Memorial Day. The tribute allows visitors to voice memories and appreciation for a Veteran’s service. All comments will be reviewed for appropriateness prior to being posted. 

Emily Friese

27 News Producer

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