May 28—LA GRANDE — A year ago, COVID-19 caused the cancellation of most events, including those celebrating Memorial Day weekend. With the spread of vaccinations and lowering of cases in 2021, several outdoor events are returning to Union and Wallowa counties to celebrate the holiday.
In Union, the Veterans of Foreign Wars High Valley Post 4060 is holding a Memorial Day ceremony at 9 a.m. Monday, May 31, at the city park.
The event will feature speeches, honoring the flag from each branch of the service and service hymn, followed by a rifle salute and the playing of Taps. The Memorial Day ceremony concludes with the reading of the names of veterans who are buried in Union Cemetery.
One of La Grande's most popular Memorial Day remembrance events, the Avenue of Flags, is set for a return this year. Last year, the Avenue of Flags was scaled back significantly due to the pandemic.
The 38th annual event at Grandview Cemetery begins at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day, hosted by American Legion Post 43. Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Roger Cochran will be a keynote speaker, while the La Grande High School A Cappella Choir will sing the national anthem.
Those wishing to partake in the opening ceremony will be required to wear masks and social distance while in attendance. The 160 flags at Grandview will be on display throughout the holiday weekend.
In the Imbler area, the Summerville Baptist Church decorated veteran markers with flags on May 28. The church will hold a Sunday morning service honoring military service personnel, in addition to Memorial Day services in the Summerville Cemetery at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.
In Wallowa County, the VFW of Enterprise will be hosting ceremonies honoring fallen veterans at several local cemeteries. The organization will place memorial flags and perform a 21-gun salute at 9 a.m. at Bramlet Memorial Cemetery in Wallowa, 10 a.m. at Lostine Cemetery and 11 a.m. at Alder Slope Cemetery in Enterprise.
The VFW will then meet at 1 p.m. at the Wallowa County Courthouse, 101 S. River St., Enterprise, to read the names of departed veterans from the past year.
Across the state, the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs will be holding a virtual Memorial Day ceremony. According to a press release, ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick will give a keynote speech prior to a color guard ceremony, national anthem, wreath-laying ceremony and the playing of Taps. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day and can be viewed on the ODVA Facebook page and YouTube channel.