Massachusetts Memorial Day tributes go virtual amid coronavirus pandemic

Memorial Day parades and ceremonies to honor the veteran community have been canceled in Massachusetts amid the coronavirus crisis, but that’s not stopping local veteran groups and communities from paying tribute to the fallen this weekend.

While the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes has been forced to postpone its Patriot Week events to September because of the pandemic, the organization will have a virtual tribute on Sunday. Also, a military flyover will pass over the group’s memorial in Boston’s Seaport on Monday.

“I feel for the families that are used to being in crowds at a cemetery or town common,” Dan Magoon of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes said on Thursday. “It’s tough for them that those events won’t take place.

“But this crisis doesn’t stop us from paying tribute to those we lost and their families,” he said.

Massachusetts Fallen Heroes was supposed to have its 10th annual Memorial Dinner at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center this week. That convention center is now a field hospital because of the pandemic.

“No different than anyone else, the impact of COVID on us has been severe,” Magoon said. “These are the biggest months for us an organization, but we can rebound in September.”

Visit www.massfallenheroes.org for its Memorial Day weekend virtual events.

Mayor Martin Walsh on Thursday reflected on past Memorial Days when he would normally spend the day at ceremonies with veterans and Gold Star families. He also noted the annual Boston Common large volunteer flag garden project, which has been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

“We can’t do any of that this year,” Walsh said during a press briefing. “We will be having virtual activities, and I encourage people to participate in them.”

Walsh urged people to decorate the outside of their homes with flags. Instead of the Boston Common flag garden, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund has created a virtual flag garden online.

On Monday, there will be a Massachusetts virtual Memorial Day program — with speakers, musical performers and a special “Tribute to the Fallen” by the Massachusetts National Guard.

“We are deeply grateful to all service members past and present who bravely served our country, and as we mark Memorial Day, we pay special tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to protect us and ensure our freedom,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “During this difficult time, it is important that we honor and remember them, and share our gratitude and deep respect for their courage.”

The program will be streamed on mass.gov/MemorialDay.

The Holyoke and Chelsea soldiers’ homes — both hit hard by the coronavirus — are holding virtual observances for Memorial Day.

The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home on Thursday held a virtual Memorial Day service on Facebook. The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home on Friday will present its virtual service.

“This annual event is typically a solemn occasion, and even more so this year,” the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home wrote on Facebook. “While we can’t be together in person this Memorial Day weekend, we hope you will join us virtually to honor our heroes.”

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