Memorial Day event adapts to the times

Rather than cancel this year’s Memorial Day service at Maple Leaf Cemetery, Kelly Davidson is adapting the event to abide by social distancing guidelines.

“I was pretty upset at the idea of canceling,” said Davidson, who works for Wallin Funeral Home in Oak Harbor. “I thought even if we just do something simple, we have to do something.”

Davidson said she decided to record the service and broadcast it on YouTube, Facebook Live, and, possibly, Oak Harbor’s channel 10 at 10 a.m. May 25.

Davidson said she has already located the necessary audio recording equipment and is in the process of obtaining a camera.

Last year’s service held at the Maple Leaf Cemetery garnered recognition from the George Washington Charter of Sons of the American Revolution and was listed on CNN’s 10 best Memorial Day destinations in 2019.

Davidson said her goal was to make this year’s service bigger than last year’s. While some of the event’s scheduled speakers have not confirmed they will be participating in the new format, many have.

Among the confirmed speakers and performers for the online event are Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns, Oak Harbor High School’s NJROTC Chief Bill Thiel, Navy Band Northwest and the American Legion.

Davidson said she’s also asking members of the public to submit short videos thanking first responders and remembering fallen service members.

“This virus is affecting the generation that we were intending to honor,” she said, adding that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Oak Harbor Lions Club is sponsoring the video, and American Legion Post No. 129 and Maple Leaf Cemetery are co-hosting the event.

Davidson said she expects the video will reach a larger audience than last year’s event.

“I think it’s gonna bring in quite a few people from other areas of our nation,” she said.

“My family members are going to watch from South Carolina, so we’re going at least there.”

Maple Leaf Cemetery will remain open and anyone can visit a grave so long as they maintain social distancing, according to Davidson.

To submit a video thanking first responders or service members, contact Davidson at kelly@wallinfuneralhome.com

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