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Honoring sacrifice on Memorial Day during a pandemic

Many cemeteries have been forced to change or cancel ceremonies for Memorial Day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

SEATTLE — As the nation tries to honor those who died in service to our country, there's no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do that. Many cemeteries have been forced to move ceremonies online or cancel them altogether.

Normally at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in Seattle, they’d host a ceremony and groups would place a flag at every grave. 

Family members are still allowed to place tributes at individual graves, but everyone has to follow social distancing guidelines and the cemetery canceled their usual ceremony.

Tahoma National Cemetery also canceled its usual events. It has been tough for loved ones who want to honor those in their family. 

The family of Air Force Captain Jermone “Jerry” Tarlyn recently lost him to Coronavirus. They said he was proud of his military service and made it clear he wanted to be buried at the Tahoma National Cemetery.  

“He always had the utmost respect for the military even after he got out,” his son, Jacob Tarlyn, explained. “He did serve during some very tense times and we wanted to make sure we honored him.”

Tarlyn and other loved ones wore masks as they gathered at their father’s graveside Sunday. It was the first time they had the opportunity to see the marker. He died in late April, just days after entering the hospital with coronavirus.  

“The hard part has been because of COVID we couldn't do the military honor ceremony for him that would normally happen, but they're going to do that for us later,” his daughter Natalie Yasinski said. “We will never forget him, he was a good man."

They weren’t able to be with him during his final days but they are trying to make sure they still honor his first Memorial Day away from them. 

“The military has so many protocols and rules. I know my dad would understand...,” Yasinki explained.

Even without the regular ceremonies they still believe it can be meaningful.  A Memorial Day like no other, one that must be celebrated less with formality and more in spirit.