COVID-19 prevents public ceremonies for Memorial Day in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- This year, the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we honor the men and women who have died and given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Due to stay-at-home orders, in-person Memorial Day events have been canceled and will be replaced with virtual observances.

"I ask all Philadelphians to enjoy this holiday weekend safely and to take a few minutes and give thanks to those millions of Americans who have served us over the years," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

Carlo Aragoncillo, Director of Veteran Affairs in Philadelphia says the city is still in the red zone and sites like the Korean War Memorial and the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial, will not host public ceremonies, but instead, online tributes.

"Things like planting flags at grave-sites, doing wreath layings, things of that nature are unfortunately not happening this year," said Aragoncillo. "So for the first time since the end of the Civil War when Memorial Day first started, this is unprecedented."

On its website, Visit Philadelphia has a list of virtual ceremonies, outdoor activities, and events to help you safely enjoy your Memorial Day Traditions. Reading Terminal will be open for shopping needs but remember, you must wear a mask and practice social distancing.

"There are no permits being issued for barbecues in our parks but certainly people are going to do what they are going to do," said Mayor Kenney. "We ask them to abide by our guidelines and keep themselves and their families safe but if they want to have a barbecue in their yard, it's certainly their house and they are able to do what they like."

Aragoncillo says we are not commemorating Memorial Day like we used to, but everyone can pause to say 'thank you.'

"These men and women, they must not be forgotten. The sacrifices they paid, they paid with the ultimate sacrifice, their lives," said Aragoncillo.
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