FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way we do just about everything outside our homes. A local veteran and his wife didn't want that to stop them from honoring military men and women.
The couple took it upon themselves to buy thousands of flags and place them at the Fayetteville National Cemetery.
Those at the Fayetteville National Cemetery are also found a way to honor our countries heroes while following CDC guidelines by still having a ceremony over a web stream.
"No matter what is going on in the world, we need to show respect and honor not only to our elders but to our veterans. Our veterans that are living and our veterans that have been laid to rest," Skip Solomon, with they Fayetteville National Cemetary, said.
Solomon says they begin planning their Memorial Day service in January. So when the pandemic outbreak started, they had to come up with a new plan quickly.
"So what we have done and a lot of other cemeteries have done is we actually put together a video tribute that we will post on our Facebook site," he said.
In the post, a wreath-laying ceremony took place accompanied by remarks from veterans affairs officials and a moment of silence followed by the playing of taps.
Unfortunately, the ceremony at the cemetery wasn't the only thing affected by COVID-19. Tombstones were almost left flagless after a long time tradition of a flag being placed by each graveside.
"When me and my wife found out the flag placement for each headstone was not gonna occur but that it was occurring at Arlington national cemetery and some other cemeteries out there, I looked at my wife, and she looked at me and said do it," retired Army Colonel Brad Welch said.
After finding out on Friday there would be no flags, Welch and his wife took it upon themselves to purchase 10,000 flags and have them shipped overnight to make sure a flag was placed by each hero's side on Memorial Day weekend. A task they were prepared to take on alone.
"There were individuals here that were just honoring their service members, and they asked them what was going on. They said well, we're here to plant some flags. And they said well can we help, so it really turned into a community event," Welch said.
Welch says in the service, their motto is "No soldier left behind," and because of this, he felt it was his duty to honor his fellow soldiers and their families on Memorial Day.
"You will always be a member of this fraternity, and your family should be honored the same way," he said.