BILLINGS — The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing cemeteries in Montana to cancel this year's Memorial Day services.
However, Montana Adjutant General Matthew Quinn will give a speech in what will be a virtual ceremony. The Montana Veteran Affairs Division made the announcement on Wednesday.
Large groups placing flags at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery will not happen this year, and the traditional Memorial Day ceremony has been canceled.
State cemeteries in Miles City, Helena, and Missoula will hold a virtual ceremony.
"The Army Guard member who's doing the editing said it's turning out much better than anticipated," Montana Division of Veteran Affairs Administrator Kelly Ackerman said about the video.
"So, I have a feeling this is going to be very emotional. It means so much to the family members who have their loved ones buried in our state cemeteries," she added.
Ackerman is also an Air Force veteran, “it's a unique sacrifice and it's important that every opportunity is given to honor veterans who have been buried in our cemeteries.”
Memorial Day has been a tradition at many cemeteries and the plan is to make the video available to everybody. "Hopefully, this is something that is viewed widely across the state because not everybody has the ability to do this," Ackerman said.
She told MTN News that making the video has shown commitment and patriotism.
"They volunteer their time to help honor the sacrifice of our service members," Ackerman said. "I truly believe that it's very important to the average citizen to honor military service members who have been laid to rest in our cemeteries."