Memorial Day during coronavirus pandemic 250520 CREDIT PA
USA

US Memorial Day Commemorations Scaled Back Over Coronavirus

Measures put in place over the coronavirus pandemic meant many commemorations were either cancelled or adjusted.

Memorial Day during coronavirus pandemic 250520 CREDIT PA

The US has marked a Memorial Day like no other as the coronavirus pandemic forced communities to honour the nation's military dead with smaller, more subdued ceremonies. 

Memorial Day ceremonies across the country were cancelled or scaled down over the pandemic.

The 37,000 American flags traditionally placed on the Boston Common to honour Massachusetts military members who died in service were replaced with just 1,000 flags to limit volunteers and onlookers.

In New York, fallen military personnel were honoured with car convoys and small ceremonies rather than parades, to conform with lockdown restrictions.

After two days of playing golf, US President Donald Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to pay respects at the annual ceremony. 

Presidents typically lay a wreath and deliver a speech at the sacred burial ground.

However, this year's ceremony was very different. Many attendees arrived wearing masks but removed them for the outdoor ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Mr Trump approached a wreath already in place, touching it and giving a salute.

He later spoke at Baltimore’s historic Fort McHenry, where he said tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus”.

Nearly 100,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus since the outbreak began. 

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in more than two months by laying a wreath at a veterans park near his home in Delaware.

He wore a face mask as he and his wife bowed their heads in silence. He saluted and could be heard saying: “Never forget.”

US authorities had warned people to stick to social distancing rules over the weekend but it was reported that tens of thousands of Americans still visited beaches and parks.

Dr Deborah Birx, co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together.

Cover image: World War Two aircraft conduct a flypast over San Francisco National Cemetery (Picture: PA).