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A very different Memorial Day this year

American flags are placed by members of the

American flags are placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, in front of each headstone for "Flags-In" at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. on Thursday to honor the Nation's fallen military heroes. Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster

We are all sharing a sense of loss for those who are gone and for a way of life that is now upended.

Fighting the coronavirus pandemic has been a battle unlike any other. More than 95,000 people in the United States, including more than 23,000 New Yorkers, have died from COVID-19.

But this Memorial Day, even as we’re still grieving in the present, we also need to take a moment to remember those who perished in the wars of our past.

It’s going to be a very different Memorial Day this year. We won’t have the traditional parades, or flag-placing tributes at our local cemeteries, or even barbecues and family gatherings. Instead, Nassau County has provided downloadable pictures of American flags and poppies for people to hang on their doors. And there’ll be a car parade that will end at a veterans’ memorial at Eisenhower Park.

But we don’t need parades or gatherings to remember those who never came home. Since the founding days of this country, we have fought wars that have cost far too many lives — from the hundreds of thousands lost in the Civil War and the two World Wars to tens of thousands more in Korea and Vietnam. And even now, the wars continue. Nearly 7,000 Americans have died in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Stunningly, the coronavirus has now killed more people in the United States than the Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars put together. There is once again a daily body count that hurts our hearts and our souls. We pay tribute to the nurses and doctors on our new front lines, just as we should our war veterans.

Even more poignant, more than 1,000 patients have died from the coronavirus in Veterans Affairs hospitals, including 28 in Northport. Even more have died in state-run veterans homes, like the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook, which has reported 63 confirmed or presumed deaths from the virus.

On this Memorial Day, we must do whatever we can — even from the safety of our own homes — to remember and pay tribute to all those we’ve lost.

— The editorial board


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