Several virtual Memorial Day events planned amid COVID-19 pandemic

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — While the coronavirus has interrupted many plans for this Memorial Day, several cemeteries and local groups are still holding virtual events in honor of the holiday.

Here’s a list of some of the activities on tap:

Greenlawn Northeast Cemetery

Greenlawn Northeast will be placing new grave markers on unmarked veterans’ graves on Monday.

The event will be held at 10 a.m. at the cemetery, located at 3700 River Blvd. Greenlawn Funeral Homes and Cemeteries Jim LaMar will lead local veterans from VFW Post 97 and the Kern County Veterans Service Department, as well as volunteers, through the cemetery grounds as they identify unmarked graves and place new grave markers.

Greenlawn will cover any fees connected with ordering and installing gravestones for deceased veterans who currently are without a marker, the company said.

Bakersfield National Cemetery

The cemetery will be open for visitation on Memorial Day weekend, but no celebrations are planned.

Due to COVID-19, public events typically associated with Memorial Day, such as ceremonies and group placement of flags at gravesites, will not take place this year. However, the cemetery said visitors may continue placing flowers and small American flags at their veteran’s gravesite.

The cemetery is limiting staff contact with visitors and will not be able to assist the public in locating gravesites.

A prerecorded virtual ceremony will be broadcast on KGET 17 News on Monday morning.

Residents can also pay tributes virtually through the Veterans Legacy Memorial website. The site, originally launched in 2019, contains a memorial page for each veteran and service member interred in a Veterans Affairs national cemetery.

VLM will let online visitors leave a comment of tribute on a veteran’s page, introducing a new way to observe Memorial Day. All comments will be reviewed for appropriateness prior to being posted, the cemetery said.

The cemetery urges the pubic to consider visiting Friday, Saturday or Sunday to avoid possible crowds on Memorial Day.

Hillcrest Memorial Park

The gates will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for visiting hours this weekend.

While Hillcrest will not be able to hold its traditional service at Hill of Valor this year, the park will be holding a moment of silence at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live in honor of veterans.

Hillcrest said it will have an informational booth for service requests, site look-ups and preplanning information available outside from 9 a.m to 1 p.m.

Historic Union Cemetery

The cemetery will hold a virtual ceremony on its Facebook page at 9 a.m. on Monday.


Thousand Flags

The Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club has announced that the annual Thousand Flags event will not be held this Memorial Day weekend due to COVID-19.

Since 2014, Breakfast Rotary has adorned the Park at River Walk with 1,000 flags on Memorial Day weekend as a way to honor those who have served and continue to serve the nation and our community, whether in the military or as a first responder.

“While we’re disappointed about the need to cancel this year’s event, we’d like the community to know that we remain committed to Thousand Flags, and we’ll be back next year!” said Rotary President Cheryl Scott.

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