Honor Roll Monument ceremony to be livestreamed, public asked to stay home
📸 James Sottile speaks as part of the 2019 Memorial Day observances in Southbridge. Moriarty Photography file photo for The Citizen Chronicle.
SOUTHBRIDGE — Memorial Day observances will be significantly different this year compared to tradition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Southbridge Veterans Council announced Wednesday morning that the usual parade that rolls through downtown and stops at each of the town’s five war monuments would not be held this Memorial Day.
“After much discussion amongst our Veterans, our Town Manager and health officials, I believe it to be in the best interest of our residents that we cancel this year’s Memorial Day Parade in the town of Southbridge due to COVID-19,” wrote Dave Adams, the president of the Southbridge Veterans Council. “This decision was not easy, but it is made with abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of our residents which is our main priority during this difficult time.”
Traditionally, each stop along the way is accompanied by music from the Southbridge High School marching band, speeches by veterans and politicians, and 21-gun salutes from a police department firing detail.
The lone pieces that will continue, albeit in a socially distant fashion, include the placing of flags at veteran grave sites, placing of wreaths at memorials, and a brief ceremony at the Honor Roll Monument.
Those components will continue “In order to honor those service members who perished while serving their country,” Adams wrote.
The Honor Roll ceremony will be livestreamed on Facebook at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day, and recorded by Southbridge Community Television for later broadcast. The ceremony will include the reading of names of local residents who have passed away in the past 12 months and the laying of a poppy for each; speeches given by two veterans; a firing detail; the playing of the National Anthem, Taps, and service branch hymns.
While the Honor Roll ceremony will be held in public space, the Veterans Council requests residents refrain from gathering at the site.
“Since we are taping and live streaming this event we ask the public not to congregate this day as to follow current state and local guidelines prohibiting most gatherings of over 10 people,” wrote Adams.
For those who wish to take part in some form of observance, Adams noted Veteran Service Officer Keith Roberts is scheduling volunteers to place flags in local cemeteries.