MOHAVE VALLEY — Strong wind didn’t deter at least 100 people from honoring America’s fallen on Memorial Day at Desert Lawn Memorial Gardens.
Neither did concerns about COVID-19. Some attendees wore face masks and stayed back from the front rows of chairs. Other didn’t wear face coverings but most remained a safe distance away from people not in their own household.
Ceremonies in Bullhead City, Laughlin and Needles were canceled this year because events bringing together large groups aren’t recommended by health experts.
Pastor Gene Stouffer, Mohave Valley United Methodist Church, talked about the country’s current moment of poignancy.
“We’re locked down right now, fighting an invisible enemy,” Stouffer said.
Monday was for Americans to remember those who gave their lives as members of the nation’s armed forces. More than 1.1 million military personnel have died in service since the Revolutionary War.
“It helps us to remember those who gave of themselves,” Stouffer stressed. “We owe them.”
The ceremony was titled “Freedom Isn’t Free” and in keeping with that theme was the presentation by Janie Reeder.
She asked what the men and women who gave their lives for their country would like to see taught to youths so they understand that sacrifice and realize what freedom is and what it takes to protect it so it can be passed on to future generations.
“Being the America worth fighting for,” Reeder said. “Evil prevails when good people do nothing.”
She stressed such things as “sticking together” and “being part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
“Turnout was amazing,” said Janelle Summerlin, public relations specialist for the funeral home and cemetery. She told the Daily News last week the commemoration was going to be carried out differently this year because of public health concerns.
Allowing people to keep their distance from one another was important because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people keep a minimum distance of six feet from others they encounter.
Moving the podium just outside the entry into the funeral home allowed people to hear the ceremony no matter where they were on the grounds of Desert Lawn.
Past ceremonies brought people together under a canopy, Summerlin said.
As is tradition, however, each resting place marker was decorated with small U.S. flags to mark the holiday. About 1,300 of the small flags were placed in preparation for the ceremony.
United Veterans Honor Guard, VFW Post 10386, presented the colors, performed taps and conducted a rifle salute.
Refreshments also were served, but each snack was individually wrapped this year to guard against COVID-10 contamination.
More than 160 names of veterans who have died during the past year were included in the event program. Their military service also is honored on Memorial Day.
Richard Eugene Stroup, the oldest person on the list, was born in 1920. The youngest, Shawn David Stimmell, was born in 1988.
This was Desert Lawn’s 35th Memorial Day commemoration, Summerlin noted.