Veterans Day 2020 preview

Rear Admiral Jeffrey Jablon, United States Navy, Commander, Submarine Group 10 delivers the keynote address during the 2018 Veterans Day ceremony. The Veterans Council of the Golden Isles has decided to move ahead with a ceremony this year in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, but without the accompanying parade.

An annual Veterans Day ceremony arranged by the Veterans Council of the Golden Isles is on, but the accompanying Mallery Street parade is not.

“The veterans council has been working on this for about two to three months, and we’re continuing to fight the same problem everyone else is fighting with coronavirus,” said veterans council chairman Bennie Williams.

Similar to past years, the ceremony in Neptune Park will feature a presentation of the colors, guest speakers and an award for the veteran of the year.

This year’s speaker will be Michael Antonio, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and senior instructor for the Glynn Academy Marine Corps JROTC program.

Sanitation stations and masks will be provided at the event.

“If they’re concerned about the virus and they wish to bring a mask, they can,” Williams said. “We will be furnishing two sanitation stations and will be offering masks to anyone who wants one and providing hand sanitation.”

It begins at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 in Neptune Park on St. Simons Island. Williams said the veterans council is also looking into live streaming the event online, but may not be able to set up the process in time for this year’s ceremony.

Veterans council leaders also want the public to know not to show up for the traditional Mallery Street parade this year.

“With the distancing requirements and things of this nature, we just could not guarantee that in the parade,” Williams said. “As such, we looked into not pushing the point this year and doing the rest of the observance with the guest speaker and the Veteran of the Year award.”

The veterans council was essentially forced into the decision by the COVID-19 outbreak and state-imposed limits on public gatherings.

“It’s regrettable,” Williams said. “I wish we didn’t have to do it. It adds so much more to the ceremony, but the primary mission right now is to honor the veterans but at the same time keep everybody safe so we won’t add to the problem.”

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