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A Memorial Day motorcycle ride sponsored by the VietNam Vets Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club still will take place

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Memorial Day services will be livestreamed from the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony will be available to watch at at noon on May 25. The gates to the cemetery south of Mandan will close from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

North Dakota National Guard spokesman Bill Prokopyk said he expects a 30- to 35-minute ceremony, shorter than the usual hourlong service. The ceremony will include:

  • A flyover of two Black Hawk helicopters, weather permitting
  • The national anthem sung by Brianna Helbling
  • Taps performed by AMVETS bugler Doug Webber
  • Opening and closing prayers by chaplain and Lt. Col. Jon Wymer
  • A 21-gun salute with a French, World War I-era cannon
  • Remarks by Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber and keynote speaker Arnie Strebe, chief financial officer of North Dakota’s Department of Human Services and a retired major

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Cemetery Director Pamela Helbling-Schafer said the ceremony — now in its 27th year — draws 2,500 people on average, depending on weather. Officials began livestreaming the event last year, and it went well, she said.

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The cemetery still will allow people to place fresh-cut or artificial flowers at graves for Memorial Day, she said. State and national veterans cemeteries are not placing flags at individual graves due to the pandemic, but the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery still will raise its avenue of flags around its central loop roadway at the end of the ceremony.

Helbling-Schafer said she is glad a ceremony is still able to be held while some national veterans cemeteries have curtailed Memorial Day services.

The Rio Grande City police department says one of their own has been arrested and is currently facing charges for stalking


“This is at least more along the lines of a somewhat normal ceremony for us,” she said.

A Memorial Day motorcycle ride sponsored by the Viet Nam Vets Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club still will take place, organizer Butch Olson said. Instead of proceeding into the cemetery to park and view the ceremony, riders will continue past the cemetery on State Highway 1806 to Cannon Ball, then to Solen, Breien and St. Anthony and onto Mandan.

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