Memorial Day ceremonies will be different this year

The Avenue of Flags will be set up this year on Memorial Day, but the ceremony will be off-limits to the public. — Gabrielle Mannino

The American Legion is still planning to have a small ceremony for Memorial Day this year, but they’re asking the public to be respectful and drive through the Vineyard Haven cemetery after the service, JoAnn Murphy, the Legion commander, told The Times.

The Legion Pumper crew will put up the “Avenue of Flags” in the morning. Then at noon, Murphy and a few others will place wreaths, and Chaplain David Berube will say a short prayer. The town is allowing the service so long as there are fewer than 10 people, to avoid the spread of COVID-19. “We just felt like we needed to do something,” Murphy said. The veterans participating are older, and it’s imperative that there not be a crowd to keep them safe, she said.

After the service, she invites the public to drive through the Avenue of Flags in their vehicles to show their respect to deceased members of the armed services.

Also, on Friday, May 22, the tradition of the March to the Sea will be conducted differently. At the Tisbury School, families can drive by between noon and 1 pm to drop flowers from their cars into a bucket. Principal John Custer said he will then take the flowers to Owen Park and drop them into the harbor. Families and students must stay in their cars when they drop the flowers in the bucket, in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Custer said that in the absence of being able to safely conduct a conventional March to the Sea, he is happy the school can provide a ceremony to honor Memorial Day and come together as a community.

“We feel a tremendous responsibility and desire to do something, even if it isn’t what we normally do,” Custer said. “It’s a huge event for the town of Tisbury, and we all recognize its importance.”