With society dealing with the COVID-19 situation, coming together to observe its regular Memorial Day activities was proving problematic, but officials at the City of Riverbank came up with a socially distancing solution, live streaming.
The scene appeared relatively normal on first glance, with a wreath poised near the Memorial Wall in front of the Community Center on Santa Fe Street. The main pole flags were flying at half-staff, as is the custom in the morning of the day, in recognition of all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Standing in the shade was the podium, normally found inside the center, with another flag behind, and the wall in the background.
In front of all that was a shaded table with cell phone cameras trained on the scene. Another major difference was the crowd, or lack thereof.
The city warned folks, via social media, that they weren't welcome at the event, hence the live streaming effort. Only a few city staffers and the participants in the program were on site, with those remaining "socially distant," and many sporting masks and/or gloves.
As it usually does, the program started with bagpipes, a welcome by Mayor O'Brien, then the National Anthem was played by trumpeter Wayne Hill, and an invocation given by Rev. Charles Neal.
Speakers included First District Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen, who lives in Riverbank, and Congressman Josh Harder, representing the 10th Congressional District of the Central Valley.
Riverbank's Edward "Fast Eddy" Jones, a Korean War veteran, laid a wreath at the Memorial Wall in honor of those former citizens who are recognized there, while Mayor O'Brien recounted some of the heroics noted by former residents in their service.
The program concluded with the playing of Taps by Hill and Amazing Grace performed by bagpiper George Harcrow. A benediction by Rev. Neal was followed by the raising of the main flag to full staff, just about at noon, as is also the custom on Memorial Day, and Hill playing God Bless America while most of those present sang along.