The veteran community of the Northland was shocked this weekend that the City of Duluth canceled all Memorial Day events and refused to issue any event permits for this weekend. As we’re starting to “turn back the dials” according to our governor, it’s a huge disappointment that the city didn’t even try to find a “COVID-19 friendly” way to hold Memorial Day events. It wouldn’t have been hard for the city to read the guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and then reach out to the veteran community to find ways to hold events. This weekend honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, it surely isn’t too much to ask the city to at least try. Instead they canceled it all at the last minute and said to hold events virtually as if that’s the same thing. Disappointed is the most family friendly word that comes to mind when describing how the veteran community feels.
Disappointment turns to betrayal when one realizes that the Duluth Police Department was allowed to have their own Peace Officers Memorial Day parade just a week ago. According to Fox 21 News, over 100 officers from 31 different communities attended the parade. While police cars from all over the state drove under a flag in front of the Aerial Lift Bridge, over 100 people lined the streets to honor fallen police officers. It was a beautiful ceremony and greatly honored those who have fallen in the line of duty. Having that parade and honoring those fallen was the right thing to do. But it makes one ask why the Duluth Police Department was able to hold their event, but all Memorial Day events have to be canceled. The Peace Officer Memorial Day event happened during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. This was before we opened up non-essential businesses and before we started “turning back the dial”. So while we were all sheltering in place, the DPD was allowed to bring in people from 31 other communities. That surely wasn’t in the public’s best interest. While the rest of us have been unable to see loved ones due to the lockdown, the DPD allowed hundreds of strangers to line the streets of Canal Park as part of their event. It’s doubtful that the Minnesota Department of Health would have sanctioned this event. Why did the DPD get to hold their event but northland veterans don’t? It sure seems like Mayor Larson has a “rules for thee but not for me” attitude. Betrayal is the most family-friendly word that describes how the veteran community feels.
Memorial Day isn’t just a 3 day weekend for so much of our community. Families lost loved ones and veterans lost brothers & sisters in arms. To quote Chief Tusken “They leave behind family and friends because of a sudden and tragic death and it’s important to also support them and show that that loss was not in vain.” For so many of us, every day is Memorial Day as we mourn those who never made it home. Memorial Day is the one day a year we can mourn publicly without being told that we need to move on. To have that ripped away from us is like reopening a wound that should have healed long ago. When you realize that there is such a double standard being applied by your elected officials, it’s like somebody twisting a knife in your back. What hurts, even more, is that the city waited until the last possible minute before canceling, preventing the veteran community from even responding and trying to find a way to celebrate this Memorial Day. After so much sacrifice for our country, it’s sad that all we get is disappointment and betrayal while city officials abuse their power and hold their own events. Mayor Larson should be ashamed. Hopefully, come Election Day the city remembers how city officials acted during this time.
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