Traditional Memorial Day ceremony goes virtual

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ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Despite the coronavirus pandemic, people are still finding ways to pay their respects to our servicemen and women.

Memorial Day service at Alto-Reste Park in Altoona wasn’t the same this year, but the atmosphere of peace and pride for our country still resides here in their Garden of Honor.

A sea of over three-thousand flags is motioning the air among the hills of the garden of honor in Alto-Reste Park. But this year, their annual event was virtual. Geoff Behrens, General Manager of Alto-Reste says the coronavirus wasn’t going to stop them from paying tribute to community veterans. They recorded a ceremony to post online. He says “we’re honored to have this many veterans laid to rest in our park. We wanted to do something. Doing nothing on a day this important is not okay with us…Take a walk on these beautiful grounds, obviously maintaining social distancing and those kinds of things, but there’s a peace up here that we would love to continue to share with our community.”

On Saturday morning, local boy scouts and marine veterans placed flags on the graves of the people who fought for our country. It was followed by a bagpipe instrumental and a 21 gun salute by the Blair County Honor Guard and Taps.

Barry Leanord, Captain of the Honor Guard says this was especially important because the veterans who’ve passed recently, couldn’t be honored as they normally would. Until March 15th, the Honor Guard was not able to perform proper services because of social distancing. Leonard says starting it again and being a part of this memorial ceremony means a lot. Leonard, says “the new normal, if that’s what we’re into, it feels different but it feels rewarding as well to know that we are doing something.”

The flags stand until mid July. You can find the virtual ceremony here.

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