By Per Peterson
This year’s traditional Memorial Day program in Tracy will not take place because of social distancing mandates set forth by the State of Minnesota. However, the local service at Bethel Cemetery will go on, even though there will be some slight changes.
In Tracy, the only thing that will take place on May 25 will be the placing of the wreaths at 10 a.m. at the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum in front of the Veterans’ memorial. Anyone who wishes to attend is welcomed to.
“It’s upsetting,” Tracy American Legion Auxiliary President Jane Wahl said of the changes to this year’s program. “We put a lot of effort and thought into our program every year. At least (placing of the wreaths) is something, and people who want to can come out and be present — they can stay in their car or stand out in the open.”
Also, the Tracy American Legion Auxiliary will not be offering poppies to the community this year, and the National and State American Legion departments have cancelled all meetings for the rest of the summer, through the National Convention in August. Boys and Girls State, which was slated for June, is also cancelled.
Wahl said the Auxiliary should be OK without this year’s poppy fundraiser, although not selling them this year will have an effect on next year’s books.
“We put in a lot of time with the poppies,” she said, “and the community has always been so supportive. Some of the ladies are selling them by phone, but we just voted to keep them for next year.”
Wahl, who has been associated with the Earle Ray American Legion Post 173 in Tracy for 12 years, said money raised from poppy sales is put back into hospital and veterans’ homes in various ways, such as clothing and activity bags for kids who visit such places.
“We have money in reserves, so we will still be able to do some of that for the coming year,” said Wahl.
The Garvin American Legion Victor Hegge Post 0273 and Legion Auxiliary members will be holding its annual service.
Garvin American Legion Auxiliary President Kathy Schmidt said they are trying to keep things as traditional as possible for their annual program, which begins at 10:30 a.m. While there won’t be the regular meal after the program, people are invited to the cemetery to honor our veterans, and social distancing will be practiced.
“With social distancing, we figured that people can stay in their cars if they want to,” said Schmidt, emcee of the program. “We’ll set chairs out, too, but we’ll keep them spaced. We all felt it was important to try to do something.”
As per tradition, buglers Chauncey Muedeking and Jeff Buyck will play Taps, and Lake Sara Baptist Church Pastor Kory Tedrick is scheduled to speak. If it rains, the program will be cancelled, since moving it indoors to the usual Plan B site, Lake Sarah Lutheran Church, is not an option at this time because of social distancing guidelines.
The program will include the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful,” the Auxiliary Prayer, a musical selection by Gale Otto and Sue Nelson, Tedrick’s Memorial address (followed by a special presentation), decorating of the crosses and a tribute to the dead, a salute to the dead and the playing of Taps.
The Garvin Post will also pay tribute to veterans at area cemeteries, including Modum (8 a.m.), Lake Sara Baptist (8:15 a.m.), Bethany (8:45 a.m.) and Hoiland (9:15 a.m.).