VA national cemeteries plan mass flag placements, virtual Memorial Day events

Veterans Affairs national cemeteries will allow mass flag placements across the U.S. to commemorate Memorial Day.

This is one of many events and ceremonies scheduled this year and consistent with the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Volunteers wishing to place flags should contact their local national cemetery.

“Memorial Day is a sacred day where we remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said. “We can never forget these heroes nor the families who continue to grieve the loss of their mother, father, son, daughter, sister or brother who stood in the gap for each of us to maintain the very democracy that we are able to treasure every day.”

McDonough will preside over the wreath laying at Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia on Friday, May 28. Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. Carolyn Clancy and Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ron Walters will do the same at Baltimore and Hampton national cemeteries, respectively.

Live streaming, recorded video and photographs from these and other ceremonies will be shared on the National Cemetery Administration’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

In addition, all 155 VA national cemeteries will be open Memorial Day weekend from dawn to dusk. Cemeteries with full staffs will also hold brief wreath-laying ceremonies followed by a moment of silence and taps over Memorial Day weekend, but these will not be open to the public.

The VA will also debut new features on the Veterans Legacy Memorial site in time for Memorial Day. Originally launched in 2019, VLM contains a memorial page for each of the nearly four million Veterans and service members interred in a VA national cemetery where visitors can leave written tributes.

By Memorial Day weekend, VLM will permit online visitors to submit photos and biographical summaries of a Veteran’s life, along with historical documents such as award citations, letters, and newspaper clippings. Another feature will allow visitors to follow their Veteran’s page and receive email alerts when new content is posted.

VA will also continue its partnership with Carry The Load this “Memorial May” to honor the sacrifices made by the military, veterans, first responders and their families. Throughout the month of May, organization volunteers will march four routes across the country, visiting 42 VA national cemeteries along the way. To learn more about Carry The Load and register to march a relay leg, visit www.carrytheload.org.

For more information about VA Memorial Day commemorations, contact your local national cemetery or NCA’s chief of public affairs, Les’ Melnyk, at Les.Melnyk@VA.gov

Memorial Day at Bakersfield National Cemetery
With Memorial Day just around the corner, the National Cemetery Administration will permit placement of individual flags on gravesites this year at Bakersfield National Cemetery. However, it will be outside of the “normal” way we used to conduct this event pre-COVID so carefully read below before you consider assisting.

In order for us to comply with the National Cemetery Administration’s requirements for COVID mitigation Bakersfield National Cemetery will require mask wearing, physical spacing and crowd avoidance. In order to be compliant with set restrictions, cemetery staff have created a plan that will allow safe participation to protect the health and safety of employees, volunteers and the general public.

If your group is interested in assisting in the placement of individual flag holders and flags, we will be performing those duties in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend. Contact Cemetery Director Cindy VanBibber at 661-867-2250 to arrange a specific date and time

The Bakersfield National Cemetery is located at 30338 East Bear Mountain Boulevard in Arvin, Calif. For more information, visit https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/bakersfield.asp or call 661-867-2250.

Memorial Day at Riverside National Cemetery
Thanks to easing of restrictions by the VA National Cemetery Administration, the Riverside National Cemetery will once again host Flag Placing on May 29.

The cemetery will provide the flags, and volunteers will place them on the gravesites.

For more information about volunteering, contact Brennan Leininger at 714-325-8301.

The Riverside National Cemetery is located at 22495 Van Buren Boulevard, in Riverside, Calif. For more information, visit https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/riverside.asp or call 951-653-8417.

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