Gainesville chapter of Veterans for Peace holds virtual tour of Memorial Mile in lieu of Memorial Day Ceremony

Published: May. 25, 2020 at 6:46 PM EDT
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Commemorating memorial day has changed due to the coronavirus. Many ceremonies honoring those we've lost have moved online or were socially-distanced to keep people safe.

It canceled the annual in-person Alachua county commemoration as well as the display of tombstones counting the war dead in the middle east.

Memorial mile on Northwest 8th street in Gainesville is empty this year….

A veteran said, "Well it's really heartbreaking"

It's due to the pandemic. With nearly 7,000 markers to put up, more than 100 volunteers from Veterans for Peace typically puts up the display the weekend before Memorial Day

Veteran Paul Ortiz said, "A lot of veterans and their family members rely on us. They come and visit the tombstones of their daughters or sons, every year, their comrades. Sometimes they come late at night because we're here 24/7. I've talked to many veterans sometimes 2 in the morning and they wanna pay homage to a comrade who was killed in battle."

People come to visit from all over the country.

A volunteer said, "and if you look at those photos online you'll see if the flag is in it that means somebody came to visit."

To keep people safe an online tour was set up using past pictures for people to view and honor from home.

Veterans for Peace member John Fullerton said, "We work hard at it. We organize months ahead of time, we're signing up the various duties a couple of months in advance, it's really rewarding. I'm just sorry we didn't get to do it this year."

Preparations for next year's Memorial Mile are already underway.

owly, surely and with social distancing volunteers are getting the tombstones ready for next year's display.

Find virtual Memorial Mile