Local Memorial Day celebrations adapt to COVID-19

Memorial Day celebrations across the island have been adapted to the COVID-19 health closure.

Former Marine Bob Gabelein of South Whidbey’s Col. Richard “Buck” Francisco Marine Corps League Detachment 1451 said a brief ceremony is planned for noon on Memorial Day at Bayview Cemetery. There will be a rifle salute and a rendition of Taps, but no guest speakers or potluck. The ceremony was changed to adhere to social distancing guidelines, but members of the public are still invited to watch.

“It was my thought, instead of just ignoring the veterans, just give them their rifle salute like we do every year,” Gabelein said, “just without the speakers.”

Saturday and Sunday morning, veterans will be outside Payless Foods in Freeland collecting money for Good Cheer Food Bank.

Coupeville’s annual Memorial Day Parade was cancelled for this year.

Kelly Davidson, a funeral director at Wallin Funeral Home, has been in the process of recording Oak Harbor’s Memorial Day service with the help of videographer Gary Weatherford and sound engineer Alex Felger. The video will broadcast locally on Channel 10 and on the Oak Harbor Lions Facebook page at 10 a.m. on Monday.

The service will include speeches from Mayor Severns, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, state Senator Ron Muzzall, County Commissioner Jill Johnson, Sabrina Brown of the Patriot Guard Riders, Navy veteran Ben Bunnel and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Commanding Officer Capt. Matt Arny.

Presentations and performances will be conducted by NAS Whidbey Search and Rescue, Oak Harbor High School NJROTC, Don Scoby of the Scottish American Military Society, Navy Band Northwest and the NAS Whidbey Honor Guard. Lt. Cmdr Chaplain John Quay will perform a benediction.

The video is expected to run for about an hour and a half. Davidson is still accepting community videos of individuals thanking family members and veterans for their service.

The community videos will be played at the end of the Memorial Day service.

End of business day on Thursday is the last chance to submit a video. Davidson said 50 other social media accounts are able to broadcast the service live on Facebook, and that seven spots have already been taken.

“If somebody has a Facebook page and they want to host it, it’s really easy to get them included,” Davidson said.

To submit a video or learn more about broadcasting the service, email to Davidson at kelly@wallinfuneralhome.com