TUPELO • The city’s Memorial Day ceremony is scheduled to go on Monday, but precautions will be in place to comply with recommendations that mass gatherings remain largely curtailed or restricted amid ongoing transmission of COVID-19.
Current plans call for a 9 a.m. ceremony to be held outdoors Monday at Veteran’s Park in Tupelo. The event will also be streamed online at the city of Tupelo’s Facebook page.
Those who wish to attend in person may do so, but all social distancing guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control will be enforced.
Social distancing will most readily be apparent in efforts to spread the crowd apart and prevent close contact.
“The seating will be more spread out in the grass,” said Parks and Recreation Director Alex Farned. “It’s really about seating.”
In case of rain, the event will be streamed from a backup location and the general public will be unable to attend in person.
City officials are a bit nervous as they watch the forecast.
“Right now, I’m a little bit worried about the weather,” Farned said.
He hopes clear skies hold and the event can be held with the public participating.
“I’d rather have it outside,” Farned said.
Local Circuit Court Judge Kelly Mims will provide remarks at the planned event. A former public defender, Mims is a colonel in the Mississippi National Guard, and has been in office since early 2019.
The choice of Mims as speaker continues a trend: Last year’s speaker was U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly, also an elected official and National Guard officer.
Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton will join Mims to lay a memorial wreath, as is customary at the city’s annual Memorial Day event.
A few musical selections are also planned for the ceremony, which typically runs about a half hour.
Memorial Day has its origins in “Decoration Day” practices that became especially common across the United States in the decades after the Civil War. On these days, family members, memorial societies and other groups placed flowers on the graves of soldiers killed while serving in the armed forces and often tended to local cemeteries.
Federal law moved Memorial Day to its current Monday celebration beginning in 1971.