The Memorial Day ceremony is one of the largest commemorations held in Southern California, where local leaders and families have traditionally gathered at the L.A. National Cemetery to pay their respects. Nearly 90,000 service members dating back to the Civil War, including 15 Medal of Honor recipients, are buried at L.A. National Cemetery.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 131st Memorial Day commemoration was different than prior years: With physical distancing guidelines, the public was not able to attend.
"The annual Memorial Day commemoration is such an important way for the community to come together and honor the nearly 1.2 million veterans of greater Los Angeles. Despite the challenges of this unprecedented time that prevented a physical gathering, we wanted to preserve the tradition and deliver a way for the community to still safely experience it," said Cheryl Fair, president and general manager of KABC-TV.
Eyewitness News anchor David Ono emceed the commemoration live from West L.A. He was joined by keynote speaker Brigadier General Michael Leeney, deputy commanding general of the 40th Infantry Division. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti joined the commemoration virtually in a pre-recorded tribute, as did Congressman Ted W. Lieu who appeared from Washington, D.C., to honor members of the armed forces; Rabbi Ed Feinstein from Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue led the invocation, and Monsignor Frank Hicks from St. Basil Catholic Church gave the benediction before the traditional "Echo Taps." Additional speakers appeared on-site from four stages spatially placed throughout the cemetery to adhere to social distancing.