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Memorial Day in CNY: Various Reasons but No Celebrations to Mourn the Fallen

Memorial Day is supposed to be a somber holiday in Central New York and elsewhere.  But this year it had even more of a solemn feeling, as the specter of COVID 19 deaths hung over the remembrance of the country’s war casualties.

Celebrations such as parades, town and village events, cemetery remembrance services, and the state fairground watch-fire this year went the way of graduations, music festivals and just about any other public gathering that has been cancelled.

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Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
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Onondaga County's Loomis Hill Veterans Cemetery

A couple dozen people were visiting graves at the Onondaga County Veterans Memorial Cemetery just before noon Monday.  Several families and small groups we talked to didn’t want to share their personal stories, though some did note the county’s 115 deaths and the state total of 23,488 (as of Sunday) also weighed on their conscience. 

The cemetery had no music, no formal wreath laying; though there were two wreaths by a flag at half-staff in the cemetery.  Visitors were also greeted by flags at virtually every single grave marker, waving in the wind -- the honor conducted by the county executive’s office. 

The flags flew over markers of those who served in the U-S Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marines.  The grave markers told of soldiers who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, and other conflicts. 

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Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
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Many might have driven past this memorial on West Seneca Turnpike not knowing gravesites dating back to the early 1800s lie here.

Just a little to the east, flags were also placed at the War of 1812 gravesite along Seneca Turnpike.  There the headstones of Captain Henry Crouch and Captain Benjamin Branch honor their service dying in 1815 and 1817 respectively. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his daily COVID 19 update on the deck of the U-S-S intrepid – an aircraft carrier turned museum on the Hudson River.  And as people remembered fallen veterans, and perhaps the mounting numbers those losing their lives to COVID 19, Cuomo made specific mention of veterans who have died of the virus. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.