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Houston National Cemetery will not hold public service on Memorial Day

People are asked to pay their respects by socially distancing instead.

HOUSTON — Honoring fallen soldiers on Memorial Day in 2020 will look a lot different than years past.

There will not be a public ceremony at the Houston National Cemetery on Monday due to health concerns related to coronavirus. But the meaning of the holiday has not been forgotten at the cemetery. It’s alive in even the youngest generations.

“(It is) to give thanks to all the people that made us free," said a boy who was at the cemetery Sunday with his family.

His brother echoed the same sentiments.

“It's not just a day to go to the beach," the boy said. "We have to respect the people who were here, who died protecting our country.”

The Kniffen family goes to the Houston National Cemetery every year on Memorial Day.

"This is our eighth year coming out," Jillian Kniffen said. "We think it’s something important to show our kids. We don’t have any family buried out here."

On Monday, the cemetery staff will commemorate the holiday with a wreath-laying ceremony that will be closed to the public. Video and photos of the event will be shared on Facebook and other social media outlets. The many volunteers who place flags at the graves each year had to do it early.

The visitors who normally pay their respects on the last Monday of every May did it on a Sunday.

"That's why we dressed up and why we wear our Sunday best," visitor Anette Mulkay said. "To honor our ancestors and those who have served.”

Another visitor said he does not have any family members buried at the cemetery, however, he says his son is in the military service.

"My son said it best, 'It’s the greatest honor to serve your country and give your life for your country,'" Tommie Allen said.

When the cemetery had to close on its most important day of the year, these visitors still found a way; they still remembered.

Another event that will be commemorated virtually will take place at the World War II Memorial Plaza in the Heights.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee will host the event that will be broadcast through Zoom at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

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