As with many other events in recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of the annual Memorial Day ceremonies at Leavenworth National Cemetery and Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
There are plans to conduct a wreath laying ceremony, which will include a moment of silence and the playing of taps, at each national cemetery operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But these ceremonies will not be open to the public because of concerns about the coronavirus.
“This year, by necessity, will be different from past Memorial Day observances,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a news release. “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 national cemeteries will be open from dawn to dusk during the Memorial Day weekend for individual visitors.
However, visitors may not be able to get onto Fort Leavenworth to visit the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery without a U.S. Department of Defense issued identification card, according to a VA National Cemetery Administration website.
The Leavenworth National Cemetery is located at 150 Muncie Road near the Eisenhower VA Medical Center.
Konrad Tolai, director of the Leavenworth National Cemetery Complex, said people who visit the national cemeteries are encouraged to observe social distancing by remaining at least six feet apart.
The Leavenworth National Cemetery Complex includes the Leavenworth National Cemetery and Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
In the past, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have placed American flags at the graves at the two local national cemeteries for Memorial Day weekend.
Tolai said in an email that flags will not be placed at graves this year. But he said an avenue of flags will be on display at each of the cemeteries.
The VA has launched a new way for the public to pay tribute to veterans using the Veterans Legacy Memorial website. The site, originally launched in 2019, contains a memorial page for each veteran and service member interred in national cemeteries operated by the VA. The site now permits online visitors to leave a comment of tribute on an individual veteran’s page. All comments will be reviewed for appropriateness prior to being posted, according to a news release from the VA.
The VLM website can be found at www.vlm.cem.va.gov
Memorial Day Masses also have been canceled at locations operated by Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas including Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Lansing.
However, family service advisers will be available as resources at three area locations during the holiday weekend, according to a news release from Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas.
Family service advisers will be on site from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, 38th and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, Resurrection Cemetery, 83rd and Quivira Road in Lenexa, and Mt. Calvary Cemetery, 801 S.W. Westchester Road in Topeka.
“We encourage those who come to the cemeteries to decorate the graves of their loved ones to stop by our tents to receive free finger rosaries and prayer cards,” Sharon Vallejo, president of Catholic Cemeteries, said in a news release.
The family service advisers will observe social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions.