Editorial: Memorial Day commemorations may be muted this year, but they are no less meaningful

For the past seven years, the area around the Whitfield County Courthouse has been a hub of patriotic activity on Memorial Day.

The Memorial Day Community Celebration is a free event open to the public to commemorate and honor the contributions of those who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Later this year on Nov. 11, we will mark Veterans Day, which honors all members of the military — past and present.

The community celebration is a heart-stirring event, as the Dalton-Whitfield Community Band performs a concert, local American Legion Post 112 coordinates the memorial service, the Dalton police and fire departments' honor guards post the colors, a guest speaker talks about the importance of the national holiday and wreaths are laid honoring our veterans.

After the ceremony, attendees are invited to stay for a hot dog lunch and participate in a number of activities — music, inflatables, face painting, a Touch-a-Truck station, pet adoptions, information for veterans, blood pressure checks and other activities.

Due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has affected seemingly every part of our lives, there will be no large, community event in Dalton this Memorial Day. We believe it is truly unfortunate that the Memorial Day Community Celebration won't happen this year. Fears of the spread of COVID-19 have led to large, public events being canceled across the country and around the world.

But a Memorial Day observance will still happen in Dalton.

On Monday at 10 a.m., the American Legion hosts a short ceremony at its headquarters at 1118 N. Glenwood Ave. The names of veterans who have passed away in the past year will be read, and there will be a brief speech and a three-volley salute. While the public is welcome to attend, social distancing guidelines (remaining 6 feet away from other people) will be followed and face coverings will be required.

For those who don't feel comfortable attending the event, there's an alternative we all can participate in. On Memorial Day, the National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. "for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation."

While Memorial Day commemorations will likely be muted, more low-key, this year, they are of no less importance. Our veterans who sacrificed their lives defending our freedom deserve to be remembered. They deserve to be recognized. They deserve to be honored.

This weekend — whether you are working, enjoying a few days off, spending time with family — please take time to remember our veterans who are no longer with us.

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