EDITORIAL: A proud tradition that will go on

Published 11:56 pm Friday, May 8, 2020

For a century and a half, the city of Ironton and Lawrence County have honored veterans and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with the annual Memorial Day parade downtown.

No matter how hard times have been, whether the country was facing World Wars I and II, the Great Depression or other hardships, it has persevered.

So it was no surprise that, even with the stay-at home orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade committee would find some way to keep the event going in its 152nd year, and continue the tradition of the nation’s longest-running continuous Memorial Day observance, which dates back to Capt. McQuigg stepping off the event in 1868, shortly after the Civil War.

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But, as we are facing an unprecedented health crisis, steps had to be taken to ensure the safety of participants and the surrounding community.

Organizers opted for a scaled down affair, while closing streets off to the usual tens of thousands of spectators and asking the public to view the event from a livestream this year.

As was expected, there were those who second guessed the decision, falsely claiming the concern was overblown and that the event should have been held as normal.

The threat of COVID-19 is very much real and those who want a premature return to normalcy should read up on the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, when the city of Philadelphia felt it was safe and went ahead with a parade for World I veterans and sparked a second wave of infection.

Anyone who knows the organizers of the parade knows that months and months of planning go into the event, and this was not a decision that was made lightly.

Due to orders on crowd limits by the governor, there was no chance the event was going to occur in its usual manner.

But, thanks to the innovation of the committee, the region will still get to pay tribute to those who served and keep a proud tradition going.

Hopefully, by this time next year, the worst of this crisis will have passed and the full parade can return.

Until then, for those who are disappointed in being unable to attend, we would urge you to consider to take a day to find some way to show your respect for veterans.

Whether it is decorating graves at a cemetery, donating to groups, sending gifts to veterans in nursing homes or simply thanking someone for their service, use these coming weeks to keep the spirit of the holiday strong.