Memorial Day Celebrations May Be Gone This Year, But Not Forgotten

May 22, 2020

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.

Veterans rise and show respect as the flag was raised into place in 2013.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

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."

A Desert Storm veteran gets help from a friend as he places a flag in 2019.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

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.

The VVA Chapter 10 Color Guard raises the flag, as seen from the hillside beyond the memorial where white crosses were placed for 2018's ceremony to represent the 50 US states and three inhabited territories.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

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)

Retired Brigadier General Charles O. Dillard, MD offered the keynote speech in 2013.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Seen here in 2012, The UC Bearcat Band has been performing patriotic music for the annual ceremony since the mid to late 1990s.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Two former Marines salute. Later during this 2012 ceremony, the gentleman on the right, a Korean War veteran would participate in the wreath laying.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Scene from the 2012 ceremony.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
From 2014, members of the VVA Chapter 10 rifle squad offer a 21-gun salute.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
A mother and child place commemorative flags at the base of the memorial in 2014.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Robert O. Case served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. He was among those who landed on the beach at Normandy. He reached the rank of Captain by the time his service was over. Seen here in 2016, Case died in February 2017.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Army Corporal Rodney K. Ladson approached the memorial in 2017 choking back tears as he placed his flags and offered a salute. He served in Vietnam.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Mike Bruner, Marcus Bland, Nathan Childs, Jason Brown, and William Clemmons pose in front of the Vietnam War Memorial. They told WVXU in 2017 they lived together at Cincinnati's Joseph House for veterans.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
These two veterans told WVXU in 2018 that they'd met several years prior at the Eden Park Memorial Day ceremony.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The flags of each military branch are presented and veterans are encouraged to stand and be recognized as the UC Bearcat Bands play a medley of service themes. 2019 was the 35th anniversary of the memorial's dedication.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU