SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the nation observed Memorial Day, especially at the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Keithville.
While the public ceremonies could not take place as usual, many families and small groups observed the holiday their own way.
But venture not too far and you quickly realize what a recent study discovered as well, that less than half of all Americans can explain what Memorial Day observes.
Among those visiting the cemetery Monday was Sigrid Reeves, a recent widow who came to visit her late husband’s final resting place.
Many people are just too distracted these days to actually stop and consider the sacrifices made by fallen veterans, she said.
“The world is turning too fast. And we’re too occupied with us, us; me, my world and not think about what’s around us.”
KSLA News 12 also came across 9-year-old Cerena Olivier, the reigning Miss Louisiana Elementary, who explained how Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
“I think that’s amazing. So I’m out here putting flags on veterans’ (graves), who served for our freedom.”
Olivier’s mom, Alicia, is a schoolteacher who said she’s not surprised that new survey by the University of Phoenix shows only 43 percent of Americans could correctly describe what Memorial Day observes.
And that’s why she’s told her daughter all about its meaning. “I think it’s very important to teach her about our freedoms.”
After the condensed program Monday, cemetery director Don Howard explained why the ceremony went forward without the public.
“In the midst of COVID-19, that’s the reason; we still had to have an observation for Memorial Day.”
While friends, relatives and other loved ones like Della Day understood why the public portion of the cemetery’s Memorial Day observance was canceled, she also made a point to return on her own in memory of her late husband.
“I just felt like I had to come back out today, pay respects to him and to the others who’s fallen.”
As for COVID-19, it already has made its deadly presence known at the veterans cemetery in the past few months. At least a third of all veterans laid to rest there have been coronavirus-related, said Howard, the cemetery’s director.
Many just hope that by the time the Memorial Day 2021 comes around, the presence of COVID-19 is a distant memory and won’t cast the same pall it did over this year’s ceremony.