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While the usual public ceremony at Jefferson City National Cemetery will not be held this Memorial Day, the Jefferson City Veterans Council is holding a different ceremony outside the Capitol.

The council is not hosting a ceremony at the cemetery after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs barred large public gatherings at national cemeteries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the council announced Thursday there will be a brief Memorial Day ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Missouri Veterans Memorial on the north side of the Capitol in Jefferson City.

The event is open to the public, but because of the pandemic, people are encouraged to watch the ceremony on TV or Facebook, Jefferson City Veterans Council President Don Hentges said in a news release. KRCG-TV will broadcast the ceremony live.

"Thank you for your understanding during this trying time," Hentges said. "Our first priority is keeping our community safe and healthy as we continue to honor those veterans who have given the ultimate sacrifice."

Though large public gatherings will not be held in national cemeteries, the VA has said national cemeteries will be open for visitation throughout Memorial Day weekend, and families and friends are welcome to place flowers or individual flags at gravesites.

The VA noted on its website that cemetery staff will conduct a private wreath-laying ceremony, with photos to be shared on Facebook and other social media.

The VA has launched a digital way for the public to pay tribute to veterans — the Veterans Legacy Memorial, available at vlm.cem.va.gov. The website contains a memorial page for each veteran and service member interred in a VA national cemetery.

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