Add one more major community event to the fallout from COVID-19. Officials with the Escalon American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post 263 say things don’t look promising for the staging of Memorial Day services in and around Escalon this year.
Typically, the local Legion and Legion Riders members put on a series of services, beginning at Burwood Cemetery on River Road. From there, additional services are hosted throughout the day at St. John’s Cemetery, adjacent to St. Patrick’s Church on Highway 120; at Farmington Memorial Park on Escalon-Bellota Road and wrapping it up at Valley Home Memorial Park on Lone Tree Road, between Escalon and Oakdale.
Post member Al Bellinger said word was received by the post, from National American Legion Headquarters, that all memorial services have been cancelled. Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 25 this year.
“We feel that it’s important to do Memorial Day,” Bellinger said, noting Post members are disappointed with the decision but will have to abide by the rules.
The social distance protocols still in place across most counties in California – as well as much of the country – would prohibit the crowds gathering for the Memorial Day services. Bellinger said they are considering still placing the American flags on Main Street for that day and also placing the small flags on the graves of service members in local cemeteries.
“We wouldn’t be all together,” he explained, with those putting out the flags able to work independently and therefore, able to adhere to the six-foot social distance rule.
But placing the flags would be the only concrete way the Legion could recognize the day; Bellinger said he is hopeful that they will be able to at least do that much to honor local veterans.