SIERRA VISTA — The traditional Memorial Day observances at Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery and Fort Huachuca Post Cemetery will not be happening Monday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the cemeteries will be commemorating Memorial Day virtually.

“On Friday, our staff will start placing flags on the grave sites around 8 a.m., which is a change from past years when scouts and members of the community gathered to help place the flags,” said Joe Larson, Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery administrator.

“Memorial Day is our biggest event of the year, so this change is very difficult for many in our community who come here to pay tribute to our veterans. We typically have between four and six hundred people at our observance. It’s always very well attended.”

Larson said the cemetery is in the process of putting a video together for the virtual Memorial Day observance, with a keynote address by Glenn Holman, Arizona Commander of Disabled American Veterans. The ceremony, which will be available Monday at 9 a.m., will stream on Facebook and YouTube.

“Along with keynote speakers, we’re going to have all the traditional components in our virtual ceremony, including the National Anthem and a moment of silence,” Larson said.

The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services will commemorate Memorial Day virtually at all three of its Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemeteries (AVMCs). In addition to Sierra Vista, the Marana and Camp Navajo cemeteries will be delivering ceremonies virtually.

Fort Huachuca will be taking the virtual route as well, according to the U.S. Army Facebook page.

The Fort Huachuca Public Affairs Office and U.S. Army Garrison team filmed a virtual Memorial Day ceremony in the Post Cemetery. The video includes the traditional 21-gun salute and playing of taps. It will be available at 7 a.m. Memorial Day on the Fort Huachuca Facebook page, For those with Cox cable, the observance is also available on Challen 97, said Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton. All those with access to the post may visit the cemetery on Memorial Day, Linton said.

The public is asked to adhere to physical distancing guidelines while visiting the cemeteries, noted Larson, who suggested visiting throughout the weekend to avoid large crowds on Memorial Day.

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