FERNLEY, NEV., (KOLO) -- The Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Cemetery in Fernley typically draws a crowd of thousands every year, but this, of course, is not a typical year.
"It just wasn't possible to observe any type of social distancing protocols," says Fred Wagar, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. "Those are necessary to protect our veterans, their families and the community."
And so, the ceremonies have been cancelled. The decision, he adds, was not an easy one.
So, this Memorial Day will pass without the honor guards, the speeches and the crowds. The cemetery remains open, though social distancing rules will be in effect.
"If a couple comes out from their home and visiting, we don't expect them to stay 6 feet apart, but for the community at large we want them to have no more than 10, 6 feet apart and we would highly encourage them to wear masks."
Frankly, as someone who has for years covered the ceremonies out here, I can say as stirring as the ceremonies can be, it's the intimate moments away from the crowds, a family gathered at a loved ones resting place, which to many of us, best portray the sacrifices the day was meant to honor.
That said, the state Department of Veterans Services has produced a pair of virtual memorials -- one for each end of the state -- to add some shared community experience this year. The one for the north was recorded at the cemetery in Fernley and features veterans and dignitaries honoring each era of service.
"It's one of the ways to say Memorial Day ceremonies were cancelled, but Memorial Day wasn't," says Wagar.
Copyright KOLO-TV 2020