Fort Jackson National Cemetery honors veterans on Memorial Day, despite pandemic

On Memorial Day, we honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. But this year's Memorial Day looks a little different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — On Memorial Day, we honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. But this year’s Memorial Day looks a little different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From my perspective, it’s just the right thing to do as an American,” said Gene Linxwiler, Director of Fort Jackson National Cemetery.

Although some aspects of Memorial Day remained at Fort Jackson National Cemetery, this year, there was no public ceremony to commemorate the veterans who have died.

“We started with a wreath-laying to commemorate our veterans. We had a moment of silence at the flagpole, we played Taps and then we lowered the flag,” said Linxwiler.“The social distancing and the CDC guidance wouldn’t really allow us to have an at-risk population gathering in a large number here at the cemetery. We typically have 1,000 people out here for our events.”

Also this year, there was no sea of American flags.

“We don’t have the graveside flags, which we didn’t do because of trying to maintain everybody’s safety through the coronavirus,” said Linxwiler.

But the avenue flags stood tall upon entering the cemetery.

“The avenue flags are actually donated flags by families that have their loved ones buried out here. It’s a program that all the cemeteries in the National Cemetery Administration do,” said Linxwiler.

Despite an unprecedented Memorial Day, it was still a day to remember those who have died for our freedom.

“I think that all Americans owe veterans, in general, a debt of gratitude. I think that we need to keep their memories alive and ensure that no veteran ever dies,” said Linxwiler.

More than 4 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in national cemeteries. This year there were no public events at any national cemetery, because of the pandemic.

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