CLARKSVILLE. Tenn. -- Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for continued social distancing, the local Clarksville-Montgomery County Memorial Day Ceremony and many other events across the country, including the 2020 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., have been canceled.
But that doesn’t mean that Memorial Day has been canceled. This year, perhaps more than ever, we must find creative ways to honor and remember those service members who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in war.
The Montgomery County Veterans Service Organization, which organizes the local annual ceremony, is gathering content for a computer-based presentation to commemorate the day. It will be shared on various local government websites and social media pages.
In nearby Nashville, U.S. Army veteran and country singer Craig Morgan is joining Steven Curtis Chapman and Kellie Pickler on stage in Nashville for a "Grand Ole Opry Salute the Troops Memorial Day Weekend Special" at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 23. You can enjoy that broadcast on radio and TV.
While the annual National Memorial Day Concert won’t happen on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol this year, the event will still air at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 24 on PBS/WNPT. Actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise will host a special presentation that will include new performances and tributes filmed around the country.
Here are a few more suggestions for ways local families can celebrate Memorial Day while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Get patriotic with chalk art. Much like Clarksvillians have done throughout the pandemic, you and your family can use chalk as a creative way to mark the holiday. Illustrate a patriotic mural or scribble a thank you message to veterans in your driveway or a nearby walkway, if it’s allowed.
Donate flowers to a fallen hero: Recognize veterans by donating flowers to be placed on their grave through Memorial Day Flowers, an organization that coordinates placing flowers for interned veterans, at https://www.memorialdayflowers.org.
Fly a flag: One of the simplest and most poignant ways of celebrating Memorial Day at home is to place an American flag outside your home. When doing so, be sure to follow the proper etiquette and guidelines in the U.S. Flag Code.
Another simple but enriching idea is to visit local memorial parks and monuments. A few options are:
The 16-acre Gander Memorial Park in Hopkinsville, which honors 248 soldiers who were killed on Dec. 12, 1985, while returning home to Fort Campbell from the Middle East. The park features a paved walking trail, benches and a lighted “Peacekeeper” monument sculpted by Hopkinsville artist Steve Shields. It’s at 41-A & Pennyrile Parkway, Hopkinsville, KY; 270-885-9096.
Clarksville Veterans Memorial Park, which is a part of the Montgomery County Veterans Plaza, contains a sculpture and a history wall which honors veterans of all wars. It’s at Veterans Plaza, 330 Pageant Lane ,Clarksville, TN.
The “Pillar of Cloud, Pillar of Fire” monument stands tall in Clarksville’s Public Square, with the eternal flame at its apex and these the words inscribed in marble: “Dedicated to those patriots who lit the flame of freedom with their lives and to those who continue to fuel the flame with selfless sacrifice and service to our country. May this light lead them home.”
Truly, may a light in Clarksville lead all our soldiers home.
May God bless them on this Memorial Day. May God bless all who remember them. And may God bless all our active duty troops, our veterans their families, the great people of the City of Clarksville, and Americans everywhere.