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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Most Memorial Day events have been canceled; private remembrances can proceed

UPDATED: Fri., May 22, 2020

Chris Kerr sets up an American flag honoring Raymond Smith on Wednesday at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane. Fairmount has placed 2347 flags throughout the cemetery. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Chris Kerr sets up an American flag honoring Raymond Smith on Wednesday at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane. Fairmount has placed 2347 flags throughout the cemetery. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Memorial Day won’t feel the same this year.

Because of social distancing requirements forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, most public events have been canceled.

Since April 30, families have been able to honor loved ones at all local cemeteries, and that will continue. But public and private cemetery officials are urging families to consider paying their respects before Monday, in order to lessen crowding on the holiday.

Groups should be limited to 10 people, but many events typically associated with Memorial Day, such as large gatherings and placement of flags at gravesites by volunteers, must wait until next year because of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.

That includes the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake, which typically draws up to 2,000 attendees on Memorial Day.

The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs said its cemeteries in Medical Lake, Orting and Port Orchard will display wreaths donated by community groups.

“While we are unable to host public ceremonies, WDVA remains committed to honoring Veterans with the solemn dignity and respect they’ve earned through their service and sacrifice,” it said in a news release this week.

“We thank all community volunteers for their understanding and look forward to their assistance with this activity next year,” the WVDA said.

Cemetery visitors are asked to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and maintain physical distancing while visiting. Families may continue the tradition of placing flowers and small American flags at their loved one’s gravesite.

The same guidelines apply at private cemeteries. The Fairmount Memorial Association, which operates seven facilities in Spokane County, is placing flags at each cemetery.

Fairmount is forgoing most of its traditional Memorial Day ceremonies, but will have a special remembrance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday.

Members of the American Legion will ride motorycles through the Greenwood Memorial Terrace on Government Way, with the public being allowed to follow in automobiles.

Afterward, staff at Greenwood will pass out free pre-made hot dogs.

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