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Veterans Cemetery open for visitation, no Memorial Day ceremony will be held

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HURLOCK — As Memorial Day approaches, honoring and remembering the fallen and those veterans who have passed continues at Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery in Hurlock despite changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The traditional Memorial Day service and American flag placement will not be held this year due to the current requirements for social distancing and limitations on crowd size. Organized ceremonies at all five state veterans cemeteries were canceled, but all will be open for visitation from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 25, said Dana Burl, program director for the Outreach and Advocacy Program at the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Memorial Day is the most sacred of all holidays for our veterans and military connected families,” Burl said.

“It is a day set aside for our nation, for our state, and for our communities, to reflect on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and the preservation of liberty and freedom. Memorial Day is also a day to pay homage to our Gold Star families, mothers and spouses, who have lost a loved one in service,” Burl continued.

Veterans Affairs will air a 10-minute video message on its social media channels and encourages everyone to watch together. The video will air on Facebook and YouTube at 11 a.m. Monday May 25.

The cemetery was closed entirely during initial coronavirus shutdown, but on May 9 reopened for visitations and for funerals, with restrictions on the number of family members allowed to attend. Currently, the cemetery is open for visitation from 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Planning and conducting the Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies is the job of the ESVC Cemetery Committee, according to Committee President Ronnie James. James said the committee also handles funding and arrangements for things outside of what the state would normally provide, including the gazebo on the grounds, the stained glass window in the chapel, and the maintenance contract for the bell tower.

The ESVC is in Dorchester County, two miles south of Preston and about five miles northwest of Hurlock on State Route 331, and sits on a former 51-acre wheat field donated by the citizens of Dorchester.

The cemetery opened in 1976 as one of five statewide veterans cemeteries, and is the only one located on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Burl said Veterans Affairs asks that visitors to veterans cemeteries adhere to social distancing guidelines and to wear proper face coverings.

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