Memorial Day Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts of America march in at the beginning of the 2019 Memorial Day ceremony at Forest Lawn Long Beach.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park conducted its first Memorial Day ceremony in 1915, at its Glendale cemetery, and has hosted live memorials every year since at its six Southern California parks.

Until this year.

A ban on large gatherings, part of the stay at home coronavirus regulations, has canceled live Memorial Day events at five of the Forest Lawns. Glendale will host a live ceremony broadcast via Facebook live, but there will be no audience.

"Due to social distancing requirements, the public events we have been offering for decades will not take place this year," said Tom Smith, Forest Lawn's director of public relations and community events. "Keeping our patrons and employees safe is of paramount importance."

All of the cemeteries — Long Beach, Hollywood Hills, Covina Hills, Cypress, Cathedral City and Glendale — will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the Memorial Day weekend. Visitors are required to wear facial coverings and stay at least six feet apart.

Long Beach's park, at 1500 San Antonio Drive, is 99 years old, and has hosted a large Memorial Day ceremony for decades. In recent years, it has featured the Band of the California Battalion, a reenacted Civil War Union Brass Band. Memorial Day was created to commemorate casualties of the Civil War.

"People can go place flowers on graves, visit their loved ones," Smith said. "I think the entire weekend will be busy at all of our parks. But for the first time, we are unable to partner with our Boy and Girl Scouts, Webelos and Campfire youth to place flags on the graves. We had to explain that their safety is paramount."

Smith said Glendale has a large indoor chapel with a stage to accommodate all the speakers and still maintain social distancing. With the exception of a taped message from Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin, the entire ceremony will be live.

Music at Monday's event in Glendale will be by Harry Farrar and the Scottish Bagpipes. Soprano Alannah Garnier will sing the National Anthem and The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The keynote address will be delivered by Jennifer Marshall, a U.S. Navy veteran turned actress and television host. She has continued to advocate for military veterans throughout her career.

A message from President Donald Trump will be read, and there will be a dramatic reading chronicling Sept. 17, 1862, the bloodiest day in American history. There were 23,000 casualties that day at the Battle of Antietam. And as is tradition on Memorial Day, the Gettysburg Address will be read as well.

The Facebook live broadcast begins at 10 a.m. Monday and will be at https://www.facebook.com/ForestLawn/. The video will be available on several social media platforms afterwards, Smith said.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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