Wreaths once again adorn the graves of veterans at the Roseburg National Cemetery on Harvard Avenue and Roseburg National Cemetery Annex next to the Roseburg VA Medical Center. But this year, the annual wreath-laying ceremony has been canceled due to COVID-19.
Patriot Guard Riders Southern Oregon District Co-Captain Linda Mooney and her family placed 401 wreaths this year as part of the Wreaths Across America event, in which wreaths are placed at cemeteries across the country this time of year.
Mooney said members of the public are encouraged to view the wreaths, and take photographs if they want to, while driving through.
Those who do get out of their cars and walk will need to wear masks and gloves, which are required on cemetery grounds.
Mooney said while it was difficult not to have the usual ceremony, the veterans who would have attended are the ones that took care of all of us in the past and many are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their age and health conditions.
“We want to keep them as safe as possible, so it was difficult not to have the ceremony but I was glad not to put anybody in jeopardy,” Mooney said.
Mooney, her husband and Vietnam veteran Terry Mooney, and her daughter Christy Mooney, laid out all the wreaths. That’s a task that’s usually performed by a large group of volunteers, so there are fewer out than the usual 1,700 at the gravestones.
The wreaths are set upright this year to make them easier to view from a vehicle.
Ceremonial wreaths were also laid representing the different military branches and one representing those who were prisoners of war or missing in action. These can be seen at the cemetery annex.
“We wanted to show them we want to honor them. We want to make sure that everybody remembers them and this is one of those things that we can do,” Linda Mooney said.
She encouraged families to bring their children out for a drive-thru viewing of the wreaths.
“When you’re in the car and you do go out, then you’re teaching your children. It’s teaching your children about those that have given their lives for us,” she said.
The wreaths will remain up until Jan. 7.