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Washington Memorial Day service to be held online

For decades, Disabled American Veterans Beaufort County Chapter 48 has invited active-duty service members, veterans and civilians to gather at the Washington’s Veterans Park each Memorial Day. Their purpose is simple, yet somber — recognizing the men and women of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives in service to their country.

Typically, a large number of people come together for the Memorial Day service. But this year, those wishing to view the annual service will have to do so through a computer screen, due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a precaution to protect the health of the public, this year’s ceremony will be livestreamed by the City of Washington, with in-person attendance closed to the public.

“It would have been a lot easier to do like so many others (and cancel),” said Juanita White, DAV Chapter 48 commander. “But the memorial is for our military men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice. This is our one day of the year that we actually set aside the time to pay our honor in memorial to them. We’ve got a lot of families in the area who have lost family members in the past years. To them, this is kind of like a closing.”

White says common experience of knowing that others are mourning with them, and honoring their family members killed in action, can be a source of comfort for the families. While there is a separate holiday for prisoners of war and those missing in action each September, Memorial Day can also be a time to reflect on those sacrifices.

While the City of Washington partners with the DAV to make the ceremony happen each year, the City has also provided the technology to livestream this year’s service.

“You pay tribute to the veterans of the county, and I think it’s important for them, and it’s important to the city,” said Washington Mayor Mac Hodges.

The theme of this year’s gathering will be “For the Fallen,” with reflections on why Americans do the things they do to memorialize fallen service members. In lieu of having visitors, the City will livestream the Memorial Day ceremony online on Facebook @CityOfWashingtonNC. The 2020 Memorial Day service will begin at 11:30 a.m. Monday morning.