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Members of the Faribault American Legion Color Guard presented colors during a Memorial Day morning ceremony in 2019. This year, the Color Guard and Honor Guard will need to stand 6 feet apart while program attendees remain in their vehicles. (News file photo)

Memorial Day honors those who died while protecting this country. But this year, for the sake of protecting veterans and their supporters, the holiday will be observed at a distance.

Faribault usually celebrates Memorial Day with a 10 a.m. parade, followed by a ceremony at Central Park and lunch at the Faribault American Legion. As a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic this year, all usual plans, including a service at the Cannon City Cemetery, have been cancelled. The one exception is a short ceremony at 10 a.m. at Central Park.

The Rice County Central Veterans Association Honor Guard and Color Guard will be present at the ceremony, but members will be spaced 6 feet apart. Those attending the ceremony are instructed to park on both sides of the street and stay inside their vehicles while honoring the veterans.

“We want to honor the veterans, but we don’t want to get anybody sick,” said John McDonough, a U.S. Air Force veteran and president of the Rice County Central Veterans Association. “Last year, we got rained out. We had everything down at the American Legion, so we were kind of looking forward to having a big one this year. I agree with the restrictions … but I don’t like the idea of not honoring the veterans at all, so that’s why we decided to do what we’re doing.”

McDonough pointed out that he and other veterans fall into the age group of those most susceptible to contracting the virus, so he hopes those in attendance abide by the rule of staying inside their vehicles.

The short ceremony will include a rifle shot and McDonough reading the names of recently deceased local veterans. Fr. Tom Niehaus of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Shieldsville will deliver the opening prayer and benediction. Gordy Kosfeld of KDHL radio will emcee the event, which will be broadcast on KDHL 920 AM and livestreamed on The Mighty 920 KDHL Facebook page.

Other local services

Northfielders will have the chance to view its annual Memorial Day address online Monday.

The service, forced to an online-only format to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to be available starting at 11 a.m. on the city’s YouTube channel, bit.ly/3e0emej.

The shortened ceremony will include a reading of the names of Northfield-area soldiers who served from May 1, 2019 to May 1, 2020 as well as those who died during that time. Keith Beckwith, VFW chaplain, will conduct an invocation and benediction. VFW commander Kevin Larson will then present an address.

Instead of holding its traditional Memorial Day parade in Medford, township officials have honored veterans by placing wreaths at local veteran monuments and cemeteries. Some members of the Medford City Council and VFW will observe small services Saturday at the South Main Street and Freedom Park memorials, but the general community is asked to honor veterans privately, at home.

At 9 a.m. in Wanamingo, some members of the American Legion and VFW will assemble at the POW/MIA Memorial located in the center of the Wanamingo Veterans Day Memorial. A short program will involve placing roses on the memorial, a rifle salute, the playing of taps, and lowering and raising the colors to full staff.

Following the program at the Wanamingo Veterans Memorial, another short program will take place at Riverside Park at 9:30 a.m. Some members of Wanamingo Boy Scout Troop 76 will lead the Pledge of Allegiance followed by an honor roll of the fallen. A rose will be dropped in the river to remember those lost at sea. A rifle salute and taps will conclude the program.

A Memorial Day parade will process around the neighborhoods of Kenyon beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Kenyon Veterans Color Guard President Mike (Mac) McDonald says they will gather at the Kenyon-Wanamingo High School parking lot, head west on Sixth Street and work their way through the streets of Kenyon, with the exception of construction zones.

“I know Memorial Day is a solemn occasion, but I think people need something to lift their spirits,” said McDonald. “If you want to partake in the parade, you can either drive your car and stay in your car, or even in a golf cart if it’s a nice day.”

The parade will be led by the Kenyon Police Department, followed by four Kenyon Veterans Color Guard members on a 14-foot trailer, which will wind up at Kenyon Veterans Park, where a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps will take place.

Participants are urged to main social distancing and relax in their own front yard to pay respect to those who gave all in the service of the country. Although there won’t be a program at the Kenyon Cemetery this year, flags will still be placed on the graves of veterans in and around Kenyon.

In Lonsdale, the Lonsdale American Legion Honor Guard will hold a memorial ceremony at 9 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church Cemetery in Veseli, 9:30 a.m. at Trondhjem Cemetery and at 10:30 a.m. at Calvary Cemetery.

Because of COVID-19, and per Gov. Tim Walz’s orders for Minnesota, there will not be a ceremony at the Lonsdale Area Veterans Memorial. Anyone attending the cemetery tributes is instructed to stay in their vehicles.

Reporter Michelle Vlasak contributed to this article. Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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