Elgin to hold 'drive-by' Memorial Day event

  • Steve Thoren, right, president of the Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association, and Elgin Mayor David Kaptain talk about plans for this year's Memorial Day tribute.

    Steve Thoren, right, president of the Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association, and Elgin Mayor David Kaptain talk about plans for this year's Memorial Day tribute. Courtesy city of Elgin

 
 
Updated 5/22/2020 7:17 AM

This year marks the 100th Memorial Day remembrance at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin, and organizers came up with a way to allow people to pay tribute amid restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There won't be a ceremony but there will be a "drive-by" event Monday, officials said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

From 11 a.m. to early afternoon, people will be able to drive through the cemetery -- following a marked route and with police officers directing traffic -- and view wreaths and flowers on display by the Civil War Memorial at the cemetery, 945 Bluff City Blvd. People will not be allowed to exit their vehicles.

The display is organized by the city and about 20 civic and veterans' organizations that make up the Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association.

Elgin has held Memorial Day remembrances every year since 1868, when the first national celebration took place at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, said association representative and local historian Jerry Turnquist. "Even during the 1918 Spanish flu ... even then, they didn't cancel," he said.

At first, the city held Memorial Day remembrances at the old Elgin Cemetery on Channing Street, then moved them in 1920 to Bluff City Cemetery, he said. The Civil War Memorial has been the focal point of ceremonies since it was built in 1876 and later moved to its current location.

Memorial Day remembers U.S. military members who died in service. "People can drive through in their solemn, quiet way," Turnquist said.

The Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association will broadcast a brief tribute on WRMN radio 1410-AM at 11 a.m. Memorial Day. The program can be heard at WRMN1410.com and on WRMN's Facebook page.

Programs normally scheduled at Elgin Veterans Memorial Park, Mount Hope Cemetery and Lakewood Memorial Park will not be held this year. For information, visit elginmemorialday.org.

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