Memorial Day, May 25, 2020, was unlike any other the United States has previously experienced. With county and state orders in place, social distancing and other safety measures were taken through San Diego County. People were wearing masks, watching videos that were displayed at memorials to keep people from congregating too closely, and parades of cars were assembled. Even people at San Diego’s beaches, one of more common Memorial Day gathering locations, practiced social distancing or were otherwise dismissed from the beach if they defied state and county orders.
The USS Midway Museum hosted a virtual Memorial Day celebration, instead of hosting a parade or other public events. They featured events from the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, and Miramar National Cemetery, and on board the ship itself. Guests spoke from each of these locations and were featured on video for all to see.
Brigadier General Ryan Heritage spoke in remembrance of the fallen service members, “The soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsman and marines who lie here deserve so much more than words, but this moment of reflection, this recognition of the cost they paid, and recognition of the pain their families endured is what we have to offer today.” His words reached all of San Diego County.
Jared Howard, Fort Rosecrans and Miramar National Cemeteries director and U.S. Army Veteran said, “We’re in one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history, working together through the COVID-19 pandemic. The way we are observing the tradition of honoring those who sacrificed for our nation.” Despite the difficulties, San Diegans faced as they wished to honor their fallen veterans, they honored them with grace.
In North County San Diego, Camp Pendleton received food donations to give to veterans that made sacrifices during their service, so they did not go hungry. Numerous civilians and military volunteers attended the event and congregated by car to safely donate. Several other nonprofits also hosted food drives and delivered food to veterans unable to attend.
This year’s Memorial Day may have been extraordinarily different, but the love and care people shared for others displayed a level of empathy and companionship that will forever be remembered. “There’s no reason why this pandemic was going to hold us back” Luisa McCarthy, La Vista Memorial Park co-owner, states, “We continue to honor the men and women who fought for this country to protect us. There was no break for them, why should there be a break for us?”
This year is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe and the end of the World War II worldwide this coming September. We will remember the veterans who sacrificed themselves.
If you wish to honor a veteran – living or deceased – donate to Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial today https://soledadmemorial.org/donate/.