National cemeteries missing flags, ceremonies amid pandemic

Coronavirus

this May 22, 2020 photo, a U.S. flag decorates a veteran’s grave at Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo, Ala. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has banned public ceremonies and the mass placement of flags on graves at the country’s 142 national cemeteries. With almost 4.9 million people interred in the cemeteries, thousands would attend memorial events and help mark graves with flags during a typical Memorial Day weekend. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

MONTEVALLO, Ala. (AP) — Pam Nichols normally spends Memorial Day with a huge crowd at the Alabama National Cemetery after helping place thousands of little U.S. flags on veterans’ graves.

Both the crowds and the flags are missing this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency that oversees 142 national cemeteries closed them to public ceremonies and flag placement events to help stem the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. That includes the cemetery in the central Alabama town of Montevallo and the state’s two other national cemeteries in Mobile and Fort Mitchell.

Nicols says a private wreath-laying ceremony will be held and recorded so it can be posted online.


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