“Since the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War, Americans have answered the call to duty and given their lives in service to our Nation and its sacred founding ideals. As we pay tribute to the lives and legacies of these patriots on Memorial Day, we also remember that they sacrificed to create a better, more peaceful future for our Nation and the world. We recommit to realizing that vision, honoring the service of so many who have placed love of country above all else.”
— U.S. President Donald Trump, “Proclamation on Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2020”
May 27, 2020 — On Monday, Memorial Day was celebrated in and around Florence in a more subdued manner than usual as COVID-19 related restrictions limited gatherings. However, that didn’t stop the community, including Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue, Western Lane Ambulance District, Kiwanis Club of Florence and local veteran groups, from honoring America’s fallen heroes.
Nationally, U.S. President Donald Trump proclaimed it as “a day of prayer for permanent peace.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown began the holiday weekend by directing that flags be flown at half-staff.
“Memorial Day is a time for us to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of the people who serve and protect our nation,” she said. “We remember the fallen. We remember their courage and tenacity. We remember their dedication and determination, their service and sacrifice. Together, we resolve to remember those who have given their lives in the name of peace and freedom. We honor and remember our veterans, fallen heroes, military members, and their families all across Oregon.”
Locally, Kiwanis volunteers placed the US flag all over the City of Florence, creating a row of flags down area streets and in Historic Old Town Florence.
In addition, people gathered outside PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center to witness a salute flyover from Oregon Air National Guard. The flyover sought to honor medical personnel as a tribute to the work done by dedicated first responders and the doctors and nurses involved directly with patient care.
The Air National Guard conducted flyovers for several Oregon medical centers over the Memorial Day weekend. The flyovers were a joint effort between Oregon’s 173d Fighter Wing, based in Klamath Falls, and the 142d Wing, based in Portland, aimed at supporting and thanking healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers who are working to keep Oregonians safe and healthy each day.
“The tribute also hopes to unify and boost the spirits of Oregonians and to recognize military members who have lost their lives in service to our country,” The Air National Guard said in a release.
The F15s flew at 2,000 feet above ground level and at approximately 400 mph airspeed. People gathered at respectful social distances, and many community members spotted (or heard) the fly-by from their homes.
Memorial Day is held annually as a way to pay tribute nationally to service members that have died in the line of duty. It is often marked by celebrations by local fraternal organizations, as well as backyard barbecues with friends and loved ones, but many organized events were cancelled in response to the pandemic.
The tributes that did take place were smaller in scale and more impromptu than usual.