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The American Legion Post 225 color guard posts the flags during its Memorial Day Service on May 27, 2019. Services for this year have been canceled due to COVID-19.

Cemetery programs still planned in area

Forest Lake’s annual observance to the nation’s war dead will have a different look this Memorial Day as American Legion Post 225 and VFW Post 4210 will scrap the annual program at Lakeside Memorial Park because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Post 225 Commander Vicki Petry said this week the park program or an inside ceremony would not be possible because of the coronavirus situation, social distancing and stay-home orders from the state that are in place until at least Monday, May 18.

The virus, however, has not totally sidetracked the Legion and VFW plans to honor fallen veterans. While the formal park program won’t happen, a combined color guard from the two military groups will conduct graveside honors as in past years.

The change in the Memorial Day format is just one of many changes being faced by Post 225, she said. A decision on the annual Forest Lake Independence Day celebration, now in its 97th year, will likely be made this week, Petry said.

Honors will take place at Scandinavian Cemetery, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Calvary Cemetery, Oak Park Cemetery and Victor Hill Cemetery on Monday, May 25. Under state rules now in place, social distancing of 6 feet or more for visitors will be required. No groups of larger than 10 should attend. Petry said area churches will be asked to ring bells at noon on May 25 in honor of the fallen members of the armed forces.

As a public service, Petry said the Legion plans to hold a video Memorial Day program and a cemetery program. The video will be posted on the Legion’s website at post225.com and on the Legion’s Facebook page starting on May 25.

Regarding the Fourth of July celebration, Petry said a decision by Post 225 will be made later this week in concert with city of Forest Lake officials and Mayor Mara Bain. She said some of the events that traditionally take place each year may not happen, but an Independence Day salute in some fashion may take place.

Petry said the coronavirus has raised havoc with a number of American Legion events and programs. The Third District and State Department of The American Legion annual conventions have been canceled. Last week the American Legion also announced the cancellation of the summer Legion baseball program.

The 2020 Boys and Girls State conventions sponsored by the state Legion and the Legion Auxiliary are both called off for the year. The same holds for the annual National Poppy Days street sales program that had been scheduled for Friday, May 22. The Post 225 kitchen and bar are shuttered due to the coronavirus.

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