Zeeland creates virtual Memorial Day service to honor the fallen

Memorial Day has always been a special day in Zeeland, with many people showing up for the community’s largest annual parade.

This year, organizers of the event have come up with a way to carry on the tradition without breaking the quarantine, which bans gatherings of more than 10 people.

Zeeland Festivals Inc. announced, with a “heavy heart,” it had made the decision to cancel this year’s parade, originally scheduled for May 25.

The parade traditionally ends at the Zeeland Cemetery, where the Gilbert D. Karsten American Legion Post hosts a Memorial Day Ceremony to honor the 713 servicemen and women from Zeeland who have made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Children watch the 2019 Zeeland Memorial Parade.
The tribute includes a procession of veterans and elected officials, a welcome by the Officer of the Day, playing of the national anthem, prayer, the reading of the roll of names of deceased Zeeland veterans, a Memorial Day address, wreath presentation, gun salute, and the playing of taps. 

This year, organizers are asking residents to observe the day from the safety of their homes by watching a pre-recorded 2020 Memorial Day Ceremony. 

The local American Legion Post and Zeeland Festivals Inc. collaborated on the video, which was made possible with the support of Request Foods and DP Creative Audio and Video. 

It is available on Zeeland Festivals Facebook page and the city of Zeeland website on the morning of Memorial Day. 

Along with watching the ceremony online, the Zeeland Festivals is encouraging community members to consider ways to honor and remember servicemen and women on Memorial Day. They include:
  • Walk through the Zeeland Cemetery and observe the many American flags next to the graves of our veterans. 
  • Listen closely for the local church bells to ring at 9 a.m. 
  • Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance by pausing for 1 minute at 3 p.m. 
  • Decorate your homes, bikes, or front porches with American flags or other red, white, and blue decor. 
  • Print off some activity sheets for kids at cityofzeeland.com/memorialday2020 or pick them up at City Hall.
Related: 'Heal the Zeel' campaign rallies community support

This article is part of The Lakeshore, a new featured section of Rapid Growth focused on West Michigan's Lakeshore region. Over the coming months, Rapid Growth will be expanding to cover the complex challenges in this community by focusing on the organizations, projects, programs, and individuals working to improve conditions and solve problems for their region. As the coverage continues, look for The Lakeshore publication, coming in 2020.