Gold Star Mother Terri Thorpe, escorted by Randy Martinak and Dean Booth of the Linn County Veterans Memorial Association, placed a lone wreath Monday morning during an abbreviated Memorial Day commemorative service at Timber Linn Park.
Thorpe’s son, Tyler Troyer, 21, was killed in Iraq in November 2005 after his unit was ambushed near Fallujah.
Normally, about a dozen wreaths are placed to honor those who gave their lives in military service to their country. But there’s nothing normal about 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures reduced the crowd of onlookers from several hundred to about two dozen, all spread out around the memorial plaza.
While Thorpe placed the wreath, bugler Glenn Hunter played taps from a nearby knoll, under an overcast sky and a cool breeze.
Following the presentation of the wreath, Martinak and Booth lowered flags that had been flying at half-staff and then raised them back to their original positions. They included the U.S. and POW flags, plus flags representing each of the military services, Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.
“We wanted to hold this service — even though it is greatly shortened from our usual Memorial Day services — out of respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Booth said before the ceremony. "Others are free to lay wreaths any time they want and to pay their respects on their own as well.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, which took only a few minutes, Martinak said, “To all who gathered here today, we thank you. We hope to see you here next year for our full Memorial Day service and we hope we will see you for our annual Veterans Day celebration and parade.”
Veterans association member Al Severson said he is proceeding with plans to hold the parade and other Veterans Day events in November.
“I’m receiving Veteran of the Year nominations right now,” Severson said. “We may not get to have a big banquet, but we want to continue to honor our veterans, some of whom are 100 years old.”
Staff from the city of Albany made videos of the service and they can be viewed on the city of Albany and the city park’s Facebook pages.
Similar videos were made of the 22nd annual ceremony held at the veteran’s memorial in Corvallis. That video can be viewed at www.vetsmemorialbtco.org.
The ceremony was closed to the public and was performed by members of the Benton County Veterans Memorial.
Cam Little said before the event that the names of the deceased on the memorial were to be read and flags raised and lowered.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the National Anthem was sung.
The memorial — which holds the names of 120 Benton County residents — is on the lawn immediately south of the Corvallis National Guard building at 1100 NW Kings Blvd. It is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
U.S. flags and bouquets of flowers were placed at cemeteries across Linn and Benton counties.
Memorial Day commemorates those who have died in military service. It was originally known as Decoration Day and was held in the summer.
USA Today noted that only about 300,000 veterans of World War II are still alive and the coronavirus may be having a significant effect on many of them. More than 16 million Americans served in World War II.
Reporters searched 170,000 obituaries published in 2020 and 700 mentioned COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death.
About 1 in 25 were identified as WWII veterans.
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