As is the case with most occasions in the age of Covid-19, commemorating Memorial Day will look different around the country this year.
Typically around this time, the United Veterans Council of Kent County and their commander, Eric Nelson, would be getting ready to lay 18,000 flags at the grave sites of local veterans. This year, because of the pandemic and a shortage in the flag supply chain caused by it, they can’t carry on the tradition themselves.
“Believe it or not because of Covid-19 our 18,000 flags did not arrive,” said Nelson. “The United Veteran’s Council and the city of Grand Rapids got together and decided that this year, we were not going to put flags on graves because of the COVID-19 restrictions.”
Citing social distancing impossibilities and a shortage in the flag supply chain this year, Nelson said the council has taken to another option, using the flags they do have.
“At every cemetery we have a bundle of flags. 50-to-100 so that anybody coming in and visiting their relatives are free to take a flag and place it on their veteran’s grave,” he said. “We have to have respect for what they did. We have to have respect for the flag they did it under.”
Nelson, a Navy veteran himself, knows the importance of the day – not one for festivity, but one of remembrance.
On 9:30 a.m. Monday, the American Legion Post 1111 is streaming a Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony on their Facebook page.