A parade through downtown and a program in City Square Park, with speeches, ceremony and music, typically culminate Memorial Day observances in Waconia.
But not this year.
With large gatherings still limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no parade or program at the park. But there are still opportunities to honor our fallen soldiers and remember their service to this county, note local American Legion leaders. It is also a year that marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
In Waconia, services will still take place at eight cemeteries around the community. See times and locations that accompany this article and the special section elsewhere in this edition of the Waconia Patriot.
The Color Guard will practice social distancing during cemetery services and Legion, VFW and Auxiliary sponsors ask that anyone who attends follow the same practices and wear a mask out of respect for others.
As an alternative to attending cemetery services in person, American Legion Post 150 will be conducting a live feed via the club Facebook page www.facebook.com/WaconiaLegionPost150/ at each location.
The traditional Memorial Day program also features a speech from the Waconia VFW & Auxiliary’s Voice of Democracy essay competition winner. Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in a democratic and patriotic-themed essay and compete for scholarship money. Each year, more than 51,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $1.9 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.
This year’s local winner is Brady Compaan, a Waconia High School senior, who received a plaque and a check. Since he can’t present his essay in the park, he is recording a video that will be posted to the Waconia VFW Facebook page on Memorial Day.
Beyond Memorial Day changes this year, Legion members note that several of the post’s 100th anniversary celebration plans have also been disrupted for this summer, including the Legion Auxiliary open house planned for June 13, a Flag Day event with the Scouts slated for June 14, as well as the Legion baseball season. Plus, the Legion club room has been closed during the pandemic.
The cemetery visit schedule is as follows: 8 a.m. Faith Lutheran Cemetery; 8:25 a.m. Scandia Swedish Cemetery; 8:45 a.m. Waconia Public Cemetery; 8:55 a.m. Trinity Lutheran Cemetery; 9:25 a.m. St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery; 9:35 a.m. Lake Auburn Moravian Cemetery; 9:50 a.m. St. Victoria Catholic Cemetery; 10:15 a.m. Zoar Moravian Cemetery.