Duluth Memorial Day events go virtual

Facing COVID-19, groups replace in-person events with video and TV ceremonies.

Girl Scout Cadette Lila Kamben, 12, of Duluth with Troop 4158 places American flags Friday at Grand Army of the Republic grave sites in Forest Hill Cemetery in Duluth. The seven members of the troop are working towards their Silver Award and have researched the soldiers buried there and worked to clean up and reset some of the stones in the plot. (Clint Austin /

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of most Memorial Day events.

The city of Duluth isn't issuing special event permits as large groups of people are banned from gathering and possibly spreading the virus. That forced the Duluth Women of Today volunteer organization to cancel the annual Memorial Day Parade in West Duluth, the group announced on Facebook .

But several events have found new homes online and on TV.

Mark Boben, president of the GND Development Alliance, which sponsors an annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Gary-New Duluth Veterans Memorial, said "it's just one of those things that instilled pride in the community."

Why hold it virtually?


"It's the right thing to do," Boben said.

A video will be released on YouTube either Sunday night or early Monday and will include video speeches by Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber and John Marshall, captain of the Duluth Honor Guard and Desert Storm veteran. Links to video will be posted on the Gary-New Duluth Veteran's Memorial Facebook page at .

Similarly, Sunrise Funeral Home and Cemetery will host its Memorial Day service online. U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber is among the speakers. The Hermantown funeral home will post a video of the service at 10 a.m. Monday to its Facebook page and its website at .

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, which would usually host a ceremony at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery-Duluth in Saginaw, will instead broadcast a statewide ceremony on the Twin Cities Public Television's Minnesota Channel at 7:30 pm. Monday.

The Minnesota Channel is on Channel 8.4, Hermantown/Proctor 102 and Charter 195. It will also be live-streamed at .

β€œThe COVID-19 pandemic requires a new approach to our traditional Memorial Day events,” MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke said in a news release. "This year, we will mark this special day in a new and different way, but with the same goal: to honor and pay our respects to Minnesota veterans who have passed.”

Some traditional Memorial Day services are still scheduled:

  • David Wisted-Zenith City American Legion Post 28 will conduct a "COVID-19-compliant Memorial Day tribute" at 8:15 a.m. Monday at Forest Hill Cemetery, Duluth and 8:30 a.m. at Park Hill Cemetery, Duluth.
  • Bethany Cemetery, 4938 Hermantown Road, Hermantown, will host an honor guard ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and a service at 10 a.m. Monday.
  • Carlton VFW Post 2962 will conduct ceremonies Monday at several cemeteries β€” Eagle River, 7:30 a.m.; Cromwell, 7:55 a.m.; Sandy Lake, 8:35 a.m.; Elim Lutheran, 9:15 a.m.; Oak Lake, 9:45 a.m.; Nickerson, 10:10 a.m.; St. John's, 10:55 a.m.; Carlton, 11:15 a.m.; and flag raising at Post 2962 in Carlton, 11:50 a.m.

This article was updated at 7:37 p.m. on Saturday, May 23 to add a Duluth service. It was originally posted at 4:12 p.m. on Friday, May 22.


Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at or 218-723-5332.
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