Pandemic forces Lawrence veterans’ organizations to modify Memorial Day plans

photo by: File photo

The Lawrence Dorsey-Liberty American Legion Post 14 will not have a cemetery ceremony this Memorial Day but have a brief observance with just a performance of "Taps" and a gun volley at its post.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one Lawrence veterans’ organization is downsizing its Memorial Day plans, while a second organization is asking for volunteers so that it can continue its traditional activity.

Don Weis, commander of the Lawrence Dorsey-Liberty American Legion Post 14, said the post will not have its traditional Memorial Day ceremony at Memorial Cemetery.

The post isn’t going to totally forego Memorial Day ceremonies, Weis said. Members will display flags from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day at the post, 3408 W. Sixth St., and have a smaller observance at 10 a.m. open to the public, he said.

“We’ll have a playing of ‘Taps’ and a rifle volley,” he said. “That’s all we can do. There won’t be any flyover or guest speaker, and (we) won’t have a lunch.”

Deon Johnson, manager of Lawrence VFW Post 852, said the organization is looking for volunteers to help place American flags on the graves of veterans in Memorial Cemetery for Memorial Day weekend, as it has done in past years.

“It’s the only way we can do this,” she said. “We don’t want to put our elderly members at risk. So many of our members who have done this in the past are in the vulnerable population.”

Johnson said it was her first year of organizing the post’s Memorial Day flag placement effort, and she was unsure how many flags the VFW placed each year.

“I know we have more than 400, and it’s probably somewhere from 500 to 700.”

Johnson said about 15 people have already volunteered. She said another 10 to 15 volunteers were needed. Those wanting to volunteer should call or text Johnson at 785-917-0422.

Volunteers are needed to place flags on graves starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 23. The VFW is also looking for volunteers for more time-consuming task of collecting, cleaning, wrapping and storing them starting at 5 p.m. Monday, May 25, Johnson said.

Volunteers are encouraged to wear face masks and will be assigned areas to place flags in areas separated enough to prevent any spread of COVID-19, Johnson said. Once she gets enough volunteers, she will develop a schedule so that teams of small enough numbers can collect flags and bring them to the post for cleaning and storage at assigned intervals, she said.

“We’ll try to do it with 15-minute increments so we don’t have a rush and everybody isn’t crowding in here at the same time,” she said. “That way we can maintain social distancing.”


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