By Chris Hoffman

BETHEL PARK, Pa. (KDKA) — Bethel Park’s Memorial Day program being was condensed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but community leaders say the sentiment behind it remains the same.

COVID-19 is forcing Memorial Day ceremonies to either change or become virtual, but Bethel Park is one community allowing the public to attend.

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For about a century, the Bethel Park community has gathered on Memorial Day to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. According to one of the organizers of today’s event, the pandemic was not going to stop something they’ve done for about 100 years.

“It’s a day to honor the people that have given their lives for our country,” organizer and Bethel Park Mayor Jack Allen said Monday morning.

According to Allen, there are usually four Memorial Day events in the area. Three of the them were forced to cancel because of the pandemic.

“This one we couldn’t do,” Mayor Allen said.

“Even if it’s just one person representing each family, I think that would be enough for us to be able to say ‘we are honoring those that have passed on and are serving our country,’” veteran Haya Eason said.

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Dozens of people showed up to the Bethel Presbyterian Church Cemetery. The goal was to maintain social distancing and some wore masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Parts of the program had to be cut, including the high school’s marching band performance.

“We’ve been following those guidelines and we will continue to do so for our own health and safety and the health and safety of those around us,” Eason said.

“It’s a wide-open area. That’s why we had it here,” Allen said.

As Old Glory flew in the wind above, the community still found a way to remember the meaning of today during this challenging situation.

“It means someone should be here to honor and respect those who came before and those who are currently serving,” Eason told KDKA.

There were several speakers like Pa. State Representative Natalie Mihalek, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.

Other programs like the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies held private services with a limited number of people in attendance.

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