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In a year like no other, we have a Memorial Day weekend like no other.

Many public events commemorating the holiday have been canceled, including Jefferson City's annual event at Jefferson City National Cemetery.

And because, as we recently reported, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs barred large public gatherings at national cemeteries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jefferson City Veterans Council is not hosting a ceremony at the cemetery.

Instead, it is holding a brief Memorial Day ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Missouri Veterans Memorial on the north side of the Capitol.

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."

National cemeteries, including ours, still will be open for visitation throughout Memorial Day weekend, and families and friends are welcome to place flowers or individual flags at grave sites.

If you are able to, we encourage you to do this. Bring your family. It's a perfect opportunity to teach your children Memorial Day is more than just the unofficial kickoff to summer.

If you're not able to make it out, there are other options.

The VA noted on its website that cemetery staff will conduct a private wreath-laying ceremony. It will post photos on social media.

It also 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.

The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor those who have fought and died for our country. While ceremonial events may be changed or even canceled, the day and its purpose will always remain.

News Tribune

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