For the first time in years, almost every one of Owensboro’s annual Memorial Day events honoring veterans has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Even the event that is taking place — a reading of the names of veterans who died over the last year — will operate differently than before. City Commissioner and mayoral candidate Pam Smith-Wright is spearheading the annual event to commemorate the sacrifices made by veterans from the local community.
Smith-Wright, chairperson of the Owensboro-Daviess County Veterans Organizations Committee, said this year’s observance will not be open to the public. Instead, it will be streamed through the City of Owensboro’s Facebook page.
The 326 names of local veterans who died will be read aloud by Smith-Wright and County Commissioner Charlie Castlen at the Owensboro Sportscenter at 11 a.m. Monday.
“It will last about 20 minutes,” Smith-Wright said. “We will be social distancing the entire time and taking all the necessary precautions.”
Among the events cancelled is Glenn Family Services’ annual “A Day of Remembrance.” Glenn Taylor, Jr., said the event normally brings 300-400 out to the Memorial Gardens Cemetery and mausoleum.
“We are extremely disappointed we had to cancel the event,” Taylor said. “We decided that, because of the size of our event, it’s not possible to meet the state guidelines. We would have to spread everyone out so far, it’d be almost impossible to hold it.”
However, they did place flags on the gravestones of fallen veterans, so people will still be able to pay their respects to loved ones during Memorial Day weekend.
Events scheduled at Elmwood and Moseley Square Cemeteries will also not take place, and the VFW Seaside Ceremony is canceled.
Three other Memorial Day observances will be held through the Brandon Scott Mullins Memorial Foundation through radio and social media outlets.
A special Memorial Day broadcast will be featured this weekend on the Kentucky Remembers For Faith and Country Radio Show that airs on 90.3 FM. The one-hour show will air at noon Saturday and at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday.
A Facebook Live session hosted by the foundation will take place on Monday at 6 p.m.
“Although not open to the public, the service can be viewed online on the Kentucky Remembers Facebook Page,” said Cathy Mullins. “The tribute song titled, ‘Ode to a Soldier,’ written by Tommy Mullins will be shared and TAPS will also be played.”
Plus, a social media awareness campaign, “There is a Difference,” is hoping to bring awareness to the distinction between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
“Veterans Day is always held on Nov. 11 to honor all those who have served in the United States Armed Forces,” Mullins said. “Memorial Day is always held the last Monday in May to honor those who have died while still in service in the United States Armed Forces.”