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Memorial Day ceremony to be livestreamed from North Dakota Veterans Cemetery

Memorial Day ceremony to be livestreamed from North Dakota Veterans Cemetery

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Memorial Day services will be livestreamed from the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony will be available to watch at ndguard.nd.gov at noon Monday.

North Dakota National Guard spokesman Bill Prokopyk said he expects a 30- to 35-minute ceremony, shorter than the usual hourlong service. The ceremony will include:

  • A flyover of two Black Hawk helicopters, weather permitting
  • The national anthem sung by Brianna Helbling
  • Taps performed by AMVETS bugler Doug Webber
  • Opening and closing prayers by chaplain and Lt. Col. Jon Wymer 
  • A 21-gun salute with a French, World War I-era cannon
  • Remarks by Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. Kevin Cramer, Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann and keynote speaker Arnie Strebe, chief financial officer of North Dakota's Department of Human Services and a retired major.

"It's a privilege and an honor to speak out there on Memorial Day," said Strebe, a former Army Airborne ranger. 

A minimal amount of people will be present and socially distanced at the cemetery, Prokopyk said.

Cemetery Director Pamela Helbling-Schafer said the ceremony -- now in its 27th year -- draws 2,500 people on average, depending on weather. Officials began livestreaming the event last year, and it went well, she said.

The cemetery still will allow people to place fresh-cut or artificial flowers at graves for Memorial Day, she said. State and national veterans cemeteries are not placing flags at individual graves due to the pandemic, but the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery still will raise its avenue of flags around its central loop roadway at the end of the ceremony.

Helbling-Schafer said she is glad a ceremony is still able to be held while some national veterans cemeteries have curtailed Memorial Day services.

"This is at least more along the lines of a somewhat normal ceremony for us," she said.

A Memorial Day motorcycle ride sponsored by the Viet Nam Vets Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club still will take place, organizer Butch Olson said. Instead of proceeding into the cemetery to park and view the ceremony, riders will continue past the cemetery on State Highway 1806 to Cannon Ball, then to Solen, Breien and St. Anthony and onto Mandan.

More than 600 motorcycles participated in the 2019 Memorial Day ride, Olson said. Bismarck and Mandan police usually escort the riders through town.

Riders will leave The Shop-Your Motorcycle Connection at 131 Airport Road in Bismarck at 11 a.m. Olson said he will close the shop and ask riders to remain by their motorcycles when arriving, to adhere to social distancing.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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