Chatham To Hold 'Virtual' Memorial Day Ceremony

By: Cape Cod Chronicle

U.S. Coast Guard personnel honor those died at sea by placing a wreath in the waters of Oyster Pond at last year's Memorial Day ceremony. FILE PHOTO

The traditional ceremony honoring the nation's war dead will be replaced this year by a “virtual” Memorial Day commemoration broadcast on television and streamed online.

To accommodate social distancing mandates and protect the health of residents, the virtual commemoration of Memorial Day will be recorded and shown on Channel 18 and YouTube on Monday, May 25, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“Staff has been working on this project knowing that crowd gathering wasn’t a possibility, knowing that the community center was closed,” Select Chair Shareen Davis said Monday. Town Manager Jill Goldsmith encouraged citizens to honor fallen veterans by displaying the American flag on a door or window of their home.

Harwich Interim Town Administrator said Tuesday that selectmen have not discussed a Memorial Day ceremony because of the current emergency order banning gatherings of more than 10 people. Memorial Day and other outdoor activities were slated to be discussed in a call with the state department of public health later Tuesday, he said in an email.

Orleans has postponed its Memorial Day ceremony and has not yet set a new date.

In recent years, Chatham's Memorial Day ceremony was held in the gym at the community center. This year, Chatham's media staff is recreating the traditional Memorial Day ceremony on video by pre-recording interviews and using footage from previous year's events. Local scouts are recording the Pledge of Allegiance, and selectmen, police, fire and other town officials who usually participate in the ceremony are being included, as are the U.S. Coast Guard and members of the public. The footage will be edited together by Media Coordinator Ryan Darmon and Assistant Media Coordinator Mark Van Bork.

In a statement, Robert Franz, chairman of the town's public ceremonies committee, called on residents to remember that Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend.

“Though we cannot gather together during these unprecedented times, it’s important to set aside time to remember the members of the United States Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” he said.

The Memorial Day video will be available on cable Channel 18, streaming on the town's website, and on its YouTube channel, chathamchannel18.