For many years – up to and including 2019 – Napa County Boy Scouts placed a flag at each of the gravestones in the cemetery at the Veterans Homes of California-Yountville for Memorial Day in honor of those buried there.
That will not happen this year, though. Nor will Memorial Day traditions at the other two cemeteries run by the California Department of Veterans Affairs. “All Memorial Day events have been canceled for the three CalVet Veterans Cemeteries,” said Mark George, CalVet’s state cemeteries operations manager. “Even the smaller portions, where we have the community come in and help with putting out flags, will not be held. The cemetery staff will take care of that (for all three state veterans cemeteries). The idea is to stay within the guidelines for COVID-19 safety.”
COVID-related restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration prohibit large gatherings at federal and state veterans cemeteries. This means the Northern California Veterans Cemetery at Igo, near Redding, won’t conduct its 14th Memorial Day Ceremony this year. We usually draw over 1,000 people,” George said. “This will be the first year since 2006 that the Memorial Day event will not be held at the Igo cemetery.”
The same applies to events that would have been held at Yountville and at the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery at Seaside, on the site of the former Fort Ord Army base in Monterey County. That cemetery had planned to host its third Memorial Day ceremony.
However, both the Igo and Seaside cemeteries will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., including on Memorial Day. As with everything else, even a visit to the cemeteries will be different this year – visitors must wear a mask and practice physical distancing while visiting.
For more information about CalVet’s state veterans cemeteries and its operations during COVID-19, call (877) 741-8532.