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Flags Planted, West Hartford Community Will Honor Heroes with Virtual Memorial Day Ceremony

A member of the Hayes-Velhage American Legion Post 96 places flags at Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Jen Evans

The Town of West Hartford’s Memorial Day activities have been altered for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mayor Shari Cantor has shared a special Memorial Day message with the community.

Flag planting at Fairview Cemetery. Courtesy of Jen Evans

By Ronni Newton

Life looks a bit different as we head into Memorial Day Weekend, with many of West Hartford’s ritual experiences – flag planting, parade, and ceremony – unable to take place in the same way.

Members of the West Hartford community, however, are still finding ways to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.

Hundreds of Scouts and other community groups annually participate in planting of flags on the graves of veterans at Fairview Cemetery, an event that customarily takes place the Saturday before Memorial Day.

Due to restrictions on social gatherings groups were not able to participate this year but Department of Public Works staff, along with volunteers from the American Legion, and on Thursday morning ensured that the flags were planted anyway.

West Hartford Community interactive created this video as a virtual commemoration.

As a holiday weekend which normally serves as the unofficial start of summer begins, Mayor Shari Cantor shared an important message with the community through Everbridge, thanking everyone for protecting and caring for each other by continuing to control the spread of COVID-19, by wearing masks or face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and washing their hands.

“Although we are beginning to ease restrictions and take small steps toward reopening, it is important to remain vigilant and exercise caution,” Cantor said in her message. “Vulnerable populations should continue to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. If you are feeling ill or have been exposed to COVID-19, please get tested.”

Cantor said that while this Memorial Day residents will not be able to come together as usual to march and celebrate our community and remember our fallen soldiers, the occasion will still be celebrated. 

“We will have to do this virtually and apart. On Memorial Day, we will honor the more than 1 million men and women who have lost their lives defending America since the Revolutionary War. A virtual ceremony will air on WHCi at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. By remembering those who we have lost to war, we both mourn their sacrifice and celebrate their selfless commitment to our country.”

Cantor asked that the community honor other heroes as well on this Memorial Day.

“This year, our American heroes are not only wearing camouflage, they are wearing scrubs, aprons and uniforms. They are our healthcare workers, essential workers and first responders. They have answered the call to serve despite the fact that their own lives are at risk.”

Cantor’s message also advised the community that the Town of West Hartford has a list of FDA approved testing sites on its website. The West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District has been doing contact tracing since February, and has ramped up those efforts and will continue to work to identify pockets of infection to contain and prevent community spread.

The town’s website also has resources for businesses posted on its website, Cantor said, and is working to increase outdoor dining and retail space. Businesses can apply for expanded space here.

“Many restaurants and retailers reopened yesterday, and we are grateful to everyone for their cooperation,” Cantor said. “It was a successful day.”

Golf courses are open, and tennis courts and pickleball will reopen, with some restrictions, on Friday.

“It’s critical that you wear a face covering when close contact with others cannot be avoided. For this reason, we are asking all residents and visitors to wear a face covering at all times when you are in West Hartford Center,” Cantor said.

“I wear my face mask to protect you and you wear your face mask to protect me. Our actions matter and are interconnected more than ever, even as we stay physically apart.”

Cantor also expressed her thanks to others in the community who have shown great strength and support for others throughout the pandemic – “teachers, social workers, libraries, public service workers, mentors and coaches, drivers, mask makers, community groups that feed families and the many volunteers helping in numerous ways. You are all an inspiration and give me strength. Thank you!

“Please ring your bells this Friday for all of those we honor, with gratitude, this coming Memorial Day. Be well and be safe.”

We-Ha.com will publish the Memorial Day video as soon as it is released.

Trash, recycling, and yard waste pick-up will be delayed by one day this week in observation of Memorial Day.

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Department of Public Works Director John Phillips places a flag at Fairview Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Jen Evans

Flag planting at Fairview Cemetery. Courtesy of Jen Evans

Flag planting at Fairview Cemetery. Courtesy of Jen Evans

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