Plans in place to honor sacrifices
May 24, 2020
There will be no large ceremonies Monday in New Mexico, as Memorial Day becomes the latest of gatherings to be affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But locally and nationally, families and friends of those who paid the ultimate price protecting the United States' interests will still be honored however possible.
John Montano of Clovis said the Joint Veterans Council has many individual members who plan to put flags on the gravesites of veterans, and they'll plan to leave some extra for citizens.
"Since we can't gather, we'll have flags set out where people can come and put them on their graves," Montano said. "We'll do so many of them, but in case we miss some we'll put out flags."
The flags will be picked up Tuesday afternoon from the gravesites, Montano said.
Tommy Knight of the Freedom Foundation noted veterans organizations will place flags on gravesites at the Portales cemetery, and that he and others are naturally disappointed they can't gather for the occasion.
National organizations are encouraging members and citizens to find ways to honor the fallen while acknowledging social distancing requires new methods.
"This year, by necessity, will be different from past Memorial Day observances," Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a written statement. "While the department can't hold large public ceremonies, VA will still honor Veterans and service members with the solemn dignity and respect they have earned through their service and sacrifice."
The VA is promoting the Veterans Legacy Memorial website, available at
to the memory of veterans interred in VA national cemeteries.
The American Legion's national headquarters has called on the public to honor fallen military heroes at dusk by lighting candles and placing them on front porches. National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford also suggests making signs and sharing images of them on social media.
"You can light a red candle to remember those who shed their blood in combat and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country," Oxford said. "A white candle can remind us all of the POWs and MIAs who are not yet home from wartime service. A blue candle can symbolize our eternal love of those who did come home but have since left us. Any way you choose, light a candle of remembrance, or three, for the fallen to let the world know that Memorial Day matters deeply to the American Legion, even if ceremonies and public observances are significantly changed this year."
William "Doc" Schmitz, national commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, concedes many Americans are unable to have traditional ceremonies but implores citizens to make this Memorial Day as significant as any other.
"On this Memorial Day, like all others before, I'm asking all Americans to spend this day solely on reflecting and remembering the service men and women we have lost over the course of history," Schmitz said. "On Memorial Day, and every day, we honor and salute every man and woman - and the remarkable families of these heroes - who gave their lives for our nation. Hence, Memorial Day will forever be a day that means everything to the VFW because our warriors decided we meant everything to them."