Public Memorial Day ceremonies may be cancelled or scaled back across the country this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the people of this country won’t honor their war dead.
The mournful wail of “Taps” will ring across the Colusa, Holy Cross and Williams cemeteries this year for the more than 75 U.S. military veterans from Colusa County who were killed in action in World War I, World War II, and the wars in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. The ceremony at the Maxwell Cemetery, traditionally the largest held annually, has been cancelled.
“We won’t have large ceremonies like we normally do, but we won’t stop people from coming out to honor their loved ones,” said Danielle Frampton, Colusa Cemetery district manager.
The public is encouraged to decorate gravesites for Memorial Day, particularly those who served in the US military or were killed in action, as done across the nation since the end of the Civil War.
Since 1868, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was held for the purpose of placing flowers on the graves of those who had fallen in defense of this country.
The Colusa VFW Post No. 2441 and Maxwell American Legion Post No. 218 will form an honor guard at the Colusa Cemetery at 8 AM on Monday. There will be no speeches given this year, but a crop duster will do a flyover to honor veterans who served this nation, and the many who gave their all. The honor guard will assemble at Holy Cross Cemetery at 8:30 AM.
Colusa cemetery staff will also place American Flags on the graves of veterans, for the first time without the help of the local Boy Scouts, after the Department of Veterans Affairs announced last week that it would prohibit public events at national cemeteries during the holiday weekend. They have forbidden groups, including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, from placing flags at gravesites, and Frampton said she would respect the edict at the local cemetery as well.
In Maxwell, the American Legion Auxiliary will place the crosses on the gravesites of veterans, but there will be no ceremony or display of the Avenue of Flags, said Maria Carrancho, a member of the auxiliary and Maxwell Cemetery District board.
The Auxiliary, however, will place the traditional white crosses on the graves of all military veterans, and the public is encouraged to decorate graves and pay their respects to their loved ones as usual.
The Williams Cemetery will also host a downsized ceremony, featuring the VFW and American Legion honor guard at 10 AM.
People visiting the local cemeteries on Memorial Day are encouraged to abide by physical distancing protocols, officials said.