The pomp and circumstance is missing from Memorial Day 2020. Gone - for now - are the color guards, parades and community gatherings to honor and remember the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military.
Each year since its completion, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 10 has hosted a Memorial Day ceremony at the Greater Cincinnati Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Eden Park. Chapter members post the colors; they recognize those who came home and remember those who didn't; there's a rifle salute; a wreath laying; a guest speaker; patriotic music from the UC Bearcat Bands; and the playing of taps. Visitors, some with tears glistening in their eyes, solemnly place American and POW-MIA flags at the base of the monument.
A few raise their hands in salute.
This year's ceremony is canceled, but chapter President Ed Brown thinks he'll probably still show up with flags for people to place.
"We still gather no matter what. We will still be there. It's always a place of refuge for all veterans," he says. "Like memorials around the country, they said it would never be built and especially not in Eden Park," he adds, recalling the war's unpopularity and the public's reception to returning service members.
Dedicated April 8, 1984, the memorial features two Vietnam soldiers - one holding the utility belt and dog tags of a friend killed in action and another offering comfort with a hand to the shoulder.
"It was like a welcome home that I have never had before," one veteran told WVXU news partner WCPO on the day of dedication. "Words can't express it."
Cincinnati Parks describes the memorial as "two soldiers, one white and one African American, are captured in a pose suggesting their grief and exhaustion – the perils and anguish of war all soldiers face. The bronze figures are atop a pink granite base inscribed with a map of Vietnam." WCPO notes one soldier wears a Mickey Mouse watch.
The project was led by veterans Earl Corell and the late Bill Fee, who would in later years serve as Board Chair of Cincinnati Public Radio.
Cincinnati Parks in 2019 extended the grounds surrounding the memorial to include a memorial garden. It's intended as a separate space for reflection and quiet contemplation and offers respite for those dealing with PTSD.
Keep scrolling for more images from past Memorial Day ceremonies at Eden Park, and below is a list of other memorials located within the Cincinnati Park District that - while they may not be holding events this year - are open to visitors:
- Frederick W. Galbraith Memorial (Eden Park)
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Eden Park)
- Abraham Lincoln Statue (Lytle Park)
- Memorial Pioneer Cemetery (Linwood)
- William Henry Harrison Monument (Piatt Park)
- James Abrams Garfield Monument (Piatt Park)
- Black Brigade Monument (Smale Park)
- "The Boy And the Book" World War I Memorial (Stanbery Park)
- World War I Memorial (Valley Park)
- Robert L. McCook Monument (Washington Park)
- Friedrich Hecker Monument (Washington Park)
Members of VVA Chapter 10 couldn't hold their annual Memorial Day ceremony in Eden Park but they still hoisted the colors and placed wreaths and flags, said the Pledge of Allegiance and played taps. #SomeGaveAll pic.twitter.com/BSj8ALlGQN
— Tana Weingartner (@TanaWeingartner) May 25, 2020