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Fallen military veterans to be remembered at abbreviated ceremony

Decatur Daily - 5/22/2020

May 22--Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling will be the guest speaker at an abbreviated Memorial Day ceremony at Roselawn Cemetery honoring fallen military veterans on Monday.

Combined Patriotic Organization Commander Calvin Underwood said the 10 a.m. ceremony will be shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We will not be calling out the name of every military veteran who has passed this year," Underwood said. "The Gold Star mothers will be recognized, but won't be laying the wreaths this year. We weren't sure if we could do this and keep social distancing in place."

This year will feature headstones placed on three unmarked veterans' gravesites. Veterans Paul Stroud, Charles Spence and Olen Baker are in the unmarked graves. Underwood said local Girl Scout Emma Landrum worked to identify the unmarked sites.

He said chairs for the public will be spread out to practice the 6-foot social distancing urged by state health officials. He expects the crowd to be down to about 50 attendees because of the coronavirus threat. He said the entire ceremony should last about 45 minutes.

"We never thought about canceling the event," Underwood said. "With the coronavirus scare, we didn't know who would be available to participate. We were able to finalize the plans Monday evening."

He said the JROTC programs and Scouts will not present the colors this year. He also said the 21-gun salute to the veterans will be replaced by three volleys by participating units. He said that number remains uncertain.

CPO member Wayne Dunkin, commander of W.B. Hendrix Chapter 11 of the Disabled American Veterans of Decatur, said the ceremony will have a different look, but not a different purpose.

"To me honoring our fallen is most important," he said. "We need to do whatever it takes to keep honoring them. They've already passed, and many of them gave their lives for this country."

-- or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.


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