For Second Year, COVID Concerns Scuttle Traditional Memorial Day Ceremony

For the second consecutive year, because of COVID-19 spread concerns, the Littleton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 816 will be creating a virtual Memorial Day ceremony for May 31. A participant in last year's virtual ceremony was Air Force Veteran Mike Bynres, pictured here on May 24, 2020, performing the bagpipes at the VFW's pavilion. (File photo by Robert Blechl)

LITTLETON — For the second consecutive year, concerns about COVID-19 spread have scuttled another traditional Memorial Day ceremony.

Organized annually by the Littleton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 816, the Memorial Day procession along Main Street that includes youth and school bands, a color guard, community members, and scores of area veterans and ends with a laying of the wreaths ceremony, a guest speaker, the playing of taps, and a 21-gun salute on the Veterans Memorial Bridge has become one of the area’s largest Memorial Day events, with hundreds of residents lined up along Main Street and gathering on Cottage Street.

This year, that won’t be happening, but the town’s servicemen who were killed in wars and conflicts will still be honored.

“The Memorial Day Committee met this weekend and have decided that it would be best at this time to cancel any plans regarding the procession and gathering on the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Cottage Street,” Bill Sargent, member of the VFW’s honor guard and Memorial Day Committee, wrote in an update.

Instead, VFW participants will be doing as they did last year and have the Memorial Day ceremonies virtual on the VFW Post 816 social media page for viewing later in the day, he said.

“Recording of some of the ceremony will be taken place over the course of the next couple of weeks with the actual ceremony with the guest speaker and associated events being held at the VFW Post 816 chapel at the pavilion on Monday, May 31, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.,” said Sargent.

“The public is welcome to attend, but will be required to practice social distancing and wear a mask,” he said. “We will also be having a barbecue afterward, which is welcomed to the attendees of the ceremony. The pavilion has just had a beautiful addition added to it by the VFW members and its auxiliary. It is an amazing area that has plenty to offer for any type of event … Plenty of room for social distancing.”

The Memorial Day Committee, which also includes Dan Greenlaw, Don Butson, Al Fisher and Randy White, hopes that next year the VFW will be able to get things back to normal and have the important day in its traditional form, said Sargent.

Littleton Health Officer Milton Bratz applauded the decision.

“Given the viral transmission issues we are unfortunately still facing here in the North Country, this decision by the Memorial Day Committee was a good one,” he said to Sargent. “Thanks to all concerned for continuing to follow the science.”

In a normal year, Littleton students lay the Memorial Day wreaths on the plaques of the nearly 50 Littleton veterans who died in the line of service and are named on the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

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