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Burial Ceremonies Suspended, Memorial Day Events Canceled At Salisbury National Cemetery

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Salisbury National Cemetery

There will be no crowds planting flags at the headstones of fallen veterans at the Salisbury National Cemetery this Memorial Day, and burial ceremonies at the cemetery have been indefinitely suspended as health officials try to limit large groups of people during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's kind of heartbreaking," said Mark Beaver, commander of the Rowan County Veterans Council, which organizes the annual Memorial Day flag planting, "but I felt like I couldn't and the council can't have it on their conscience if someone was to come out and get sick."

Beaver said the event can draw upwards of 1,000 volunteers, including scouting groups, military reserves, National Guard soldiers, and their families. He said the event might be rescheduled for Veterans Day in November.

The National Cemetery Administration has also canceled public events at all other national cemeteries according to a notice on the administration's website, although the cemeteries will remain open for visitation, and individuals will be allowed to place flowers or individual flags at veterans' gravesites. Cemetery staff members will also conduct small wreath-laying ceremonies to commemorate the Memorial Day holiday.

National cemeteries have also stopped holding burial ceremonies during the public health crisis. Since April 13, deceased veterans have still been buried, but without the customary committal ceremonies or funeral honors. At the Salisbury cemetery, 36 veterans have been buried without ceremonies as of May 21.

Instead, the National Cemetery Administration is memorializing veterans interred during the crisis on an online webpage, and the administration says it will work with families to schedule committal services at a later date.

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