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Memorial Day To Recognize Those Who've Served, Including Health Care Workers

Flags mark veterans graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on a past Memorial Day.
Flags mark veterans graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on a previous Memorial Day.

Memorial Day this year will be a time of recognizing all who are serving or have served on the front lines, even if observing the day will take place at a distance.

Scott Air Force Base will honor health care workers with a flyover on Monday. 

The 932nd Airlift Wing will fly over six hospitals in the region, including Belleville Memorial Hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Memorial East Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center at Jefferson Barracks.

Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Doscher, the superintendent of public affairs for the 375th Air Mobility Wing at the base, said this is one way to show appreciation.

“With so many of our health care workers on the front lines of this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to remember the sacrifices and their own battles,” Doscher said.

The flyover is part of the Air Force’s Operation: America Strong effort to recognize health care workers and first responders in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Doscher said that even though things will be different this year, it’s all about safety.

“I do think that the soldiers, sailors and Marines and airmen and Coast Guardsmen, those that have fallen, I think they would understand why things are different this year,” he said, “and that it’s all about keeping our people safe and making sure that we keep the number of people who come down with this disease at the bare minimum.” 

The flyover starts at 11:50 a.m. at Scott Air Force Base.

Among the other events happening on Memorial Day is a virtual wreath-laying ceremony at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. Annually, the national cemetery has held a public ceremony, but officials opted to go the virtual route to abide by CDC guidelines.

Artis Parker, the executive cemetery director at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, said that even though the way people observe may be different, the intent behind it is still the same.

“Whether it be Memorial Day or every day of the week where we are honoring veterans, we want to make sure that we do it in a dignified manner,” Parker said, “but at the same time make sure that we are keeping our customers, as well as our valued employees, safe.”

The virtual ceremony can be viewed on the Jefferson Barracks Facebook page, Parker said. The cemetery will remain open throughout the Memorial Day weekend for people to visit their loved one’s gravesite.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

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Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.