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From left, Mark Boissey, of the U.S. Naval Reserves; Jonathan Ialongo, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan; and Dani Masterson, a National Bugler from Wappingers Falls; stood in front of the Millbrook firehouse on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. Photo by Judith O’Hara Balfe

Memorial Day 2020: Honoring fallen heroes amid a global pandemic

DUTCHESS COUNTY — Dutchess County commemorated Memorial Day with a vehicle convoy that drove from Poughkeepsie to Wappingers to Fishkill to Beekman to Pawling to Dover to Amenia to Millerton to Pine Plains to Milan to Red Hook, back to Poughkeepsie through Rhinebeck and Hyde Park, all to honor this nation’s fallen heroes.

It was a decidedly different kind of celebration of those who sacrificed their lifeblood for this country, which is today fighting a different kind of enemy — the coronavirus — which has killed almost 100,000 in the U.S. and 348,528 worldwide as of presstime on Tuesday, May 26.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and Director of the Dutchess County Division of Veterans’ Services Marc Coviello organized the convoy of police, fire and local municipality vehicles that traveled throughout the county on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. Typically, cities, towns and villages as well as American Legions and VFWs hold their own celebrations to honor veterans who died in service, but this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations, it was not deemed wise to do so and most Memorial Day commemorations were canceled or closed to the public. The  governor did allow gatherings of 10 people or less.

 Yet Molinaro wanted to mark the importance of the occasion.

“Generations of brave men and women have protected this great nation, far too many of whom made the supreme sacrifice in defense of our country,” he stated last week when the convoy was announced. “Just because we are physically distancing ourselves from one another during these strange times, doesn’t mean we can’t honor these courageous servicemembers who died to keep America safe. Nothing will stop us from honoring their legacies this Memorial Day.”

On the 25th, wreaths were laid at the Dutchess County War Memorial, and vehicles driven by Dutchess County Sheriff’s deputies in the convoy were decorated by local artist Leah Eddington for the occasion. 

Residents were asked to refrain from gathering in large group settings to watch the convoy. Instead, to show support, they were encouraged to hang American flags along the route, posted on the county website at www.dutchessny.gov, and children were encouraged to display paintings and drawings of flags in their windows or on their driveways.

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