A special wreath-laying ceremony will take place at Culpeper National Cemetery on Monday to commemorate Memorial Day. But to protect people during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be closed to the public.
“Each VA national cemetery will conduct a brief wreath-laying ceremony, accompanied by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced. “In keeping with CDC guidelines, to limit large gatherings, the ceremonies will not be open to the public.”
To avoid crowds on Memorial Day, visitors are urged to visit the cemetery individually or in small groups on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, all of America's national cemeteries have remained open from dawn to dusk for visitors. People are highly encouraged to consult and adhere to health and safety guidelines and maintain physical distancing while visiting.
Families may continue the tradition of placing flowers and small American flags at their veteran’s grave site, the VA said.
Public events typically associated with Memorial Day at national cemeteries, including group placement of flags at grave sites, will not take place this year, the Veterans Affairs Department said.
In Culpeper, Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Pamela Powers will preside over Monday's wreath-laying. The cemetery is one of a select few across the nation that will host top officials from the Veterans Administration over Memorial Day weekend.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will attend Monday's wreath laying at Quantico National Cemetery near Triangle. Other VA officials will visit national cemeteries in Calverton, N.Y., on Memorial Day and in Riverside, Calif., on Friday.
Those events and other ceremonies will be shared via live-streams, recorded video and still photos on the National Cemetery Administration's website and Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Another website, the Veterans Legacy Memorial, provides another way people can pay tribute to veterans, the VA said. The site contains a memorial page for each veteran and service member interred in a national cemetery. The memorial permits online visitors to leave a comment or tribute on a veteran’s page, a new offering launched on May 14. The tribute allows people to share memories and voice appreciation for a veteran’s service.
And as in years past, the Veterans Affairs Department is partnering with Carry the Load to honor select “Veterans of the Day” with social-media remembrances from May 11 to May 25.