Memorial Day ceremony is on

Modified public event is being planned for May 25 at cemetery

by Tom Coombe
It won’t look quite like it usually does, but Ely will have its annual Memorial Day ceremony in the city’s cemetery.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on large gatherings, the ceremony will go on as scheduled on May 25 - but in a modified format.
Representatives of local veterans organizations announced their plans Wednesday.
“I think it’s even more important during these times that we don’t forget about this stuff,” said Steve Saari, vice commander of Ely American Legion Post 248.
Organizers have implemented several changes in response to the pandemic, most notably curtailing the program that usually takes place on a portable stage in the cemetery.
The ceremony will still originate from the cemetery, starting at 10:30 a.m., and people are invited to drive there, park, and roll their windows down.
Local radio station WELY will broadcast the entire event, and people are encouraged to listen from their vehicles.
Saari, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, will deliver the keynote address, while the welcome and roll call of departed comrades will be read by Gerald Tyler, commander of Ely Post 248.
As bagpiper Joe Linneman plays Amazing Grace, a wreath will be placed at the tomb of the unknown soldier by the Zaverl Family.
Members of the Ely Area Honor Guard will be at the cemetery to present the colors and for the salute to the honored dead. Honor guard members will also set up flags at the grave sites of deceased veterans.
Ron Forsman will play taps to close out the program.
The WELY broadcast will allow those who go to the cemetery to remain in their vehicles and listen, and it allows for people to listen from anywhere.
In Ely, the Memorial Day ceremony is a decades-old tradition in Ely, and veterans said they were looking for ways for it to go on this year,.
“It wasn’t even a thought that we wouldn’t do it,” said Tyler.
“It’s only fitting,” added Bob Niskala, a longtime member of the Honor Guard and VFW.
Organizers also seek additional help in recognizing all departed veterans.
Those who know of a veteran who has passed away in the last year, or of a veteran inadvertently omitted from previous Ely Memorial Day programs, is asked to call the Ely Echo at (218) 365-3141 to get the name added to the list.