SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Memorial Day 2020 celebrations will certainly be different this year under the pandemic, but not cancelled.
The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) is honoring our fallen veterans with a special Memorial Day broadcast on NewsChannel 3.
Lt. John Blankenship, USN (Former) and Founder of PCVF, shared that PCVF felt it was important to find a way to continue the Memorial Day event to honor fallen heroes and to demonstrate America's resilience by prevailing over adversity caused by COVID- 19 - the invisible enemy.
"With the support of the KEYT production team, our organization found a way to transition our once live programming to a televised and digital format," Blankenship said. "In fact, now more people can join together, but safely apart, to remember those in uniform who have passed before us."
Blankenship paid tribute to Claeyssens' legacy, while talking to reporter Beth Farnsworth.
"Well for me, it's probably the most important day of the year in the fact that through Pierre, I was able to understand what he went through being in the occupation of Belgium of four years, where a lot of people died of starvation. And so, when he emigrated to the United States in 1938, he, um, felt very strongly about veterans and America. And he was a patriot to the end. I mean he was more patriotic than most anybody I've met. The flags at the cemetery, the school kids .... he gave flags to the school kids on Memorial Day. So yes, it's a very important time."
The hour-long production will feature clips from last year's ceremony, a traditional bagpipe processional at the Santa Barbara Cemetery, a number of highly decorated local veteran speakers (recently videotaped) representing past wars and conflicts and, a focus on service members involved in the frontline COVID-19 fight. There will also be a televised flyover.
"I just think this is important for Americans that we honor the traditions of the past. This is not a holiday for barbecue, this is a time that you should sort of honor all of the defenders of this country so, ah, from 1700's to the .... to today," Blankenship said.
An estimated 1,500 people turned out for last year's Memorial Day events so, physical distancing this year is not possible.
The 2020 Memorial Day Community Event will broadcast Monday, May 25, at 4:00 p.m. on NewsChannel 3.
For more information about The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation or to make a donation, click the following link: https://www.pcvf.org/