Commentary, Local Commentary

Memorial Day Embodies All That Is Good & True About F.C.

If this were a regular year, Falls Church would be getting ready for the beloved Memorial Day Parade and Festival this coming Monday. Floats would be built. Costumes decorated; Booths readied: Dances practiced; Mini-cars oiled and ready to zoom. The Falls Church Veterans Memorial would be spruced up with new flowers and flags for the Memorial Day Ceremony.

We’d be reviewing the insert in the News-Press, planning which booths to visit and where to meet friends to watch the parade. We’d be wondering about the design and color of the Beyer Fun Run t-shirt.

Memorial Day doesn’t just happen. It is truly a labor of love — requiring long hours from volunteers, employees, vendors, and performers. It thrives on parent power to get those marching and dancing children to the right place at the right time.

Memorial Day in Falls Church embodies all that is good and true about our community. We take time to remember men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice protecting this country, reading the names of those from Falls Church who died while wearing our country’s uniform.

The parade is a celebration of the America they fought to protect — one that is welcoming to all, open to all, and respectful of all. From the spirited Bolivian dancers to the soulful Scottish pipers and energetic Tae Kwon Do students, it’s a joyful extravaganza of our city and our country. We cheer for the Tinner Hill Music Festival float, and the bright-eyed Operation Earthwatch students who are learning how to save the world. We show our love for lacrosse players, acrobats, librarians, baseball teams, and safety patrols. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and veterans get a rousing welcome, along with the Shriners in their orange cars. The dramatic Lion Dancers from Eden Center and the pounding Batalá drummers make hearts sing.

We won’t see any of them this year. Not in 2020, the year of protective face mask and physical distancing. We’ve missed out on so much. We are losing relatives and friends to this disease. Neighbors are sick and unemployed. Those who are going to work risk exposure every day. Some are stir-crazy at home. It is hard to know what the right thing is some days.

Even if we can’t have the usual Memorial Day party, we’ve still got the love.
Though we’ve been forced to change so much about our daily lives, there’s still so much that hasn’t changed. Since we have to stay-at-home somewhere, there’s no better place than Falls Church.

Ordinary people are doing hard things with persistent grace. The Falls Church Education Foundation Family Assistance Fund has collected more than $110,000, which is going right back into the community to help our neighbors. The inspired BetterTogether t-shirts have raised more than $30,000, to purchase gift cards from local businesses and give them to families and individuals in need of help. The campaign closes on Monday, so look for the ad elsewhere in this paper if you want a shirt.

Some are running food and toiletry drives from their front porches or turning Little Free LIbraries into food pantries. Churches are holding drive-through contact-free donation drives.

We are participating in a joyous groundswell of Living Local, appreciating that our small businesses have been able to pivot to a new way of doing business. They are part of the fabric of our lives and are generous with their expertise in the community, too.

Teachers are bringing learning into living rooms and backyards with admirable poise. Librarians along with Rec & Parks staff are creating entertaining videos and at-home activities.

This Monday, Memorial Day isn’t cancelled. It’s just different. Here’s how we can celebrate.

1. Fly the American flag proudly. It is all of ours.

2. Watch the Falls Church Veterans Council Virtual Memorial Day Ceremony that will be shown at 11:00 am on FCC-TV. The keynote speaker will be the Chairman of the Falls Church Veterans Council, Jorome Gibbon. You can also watch on the Youtube channel called City of Falls Church Government.

3. Binge watch the FCC-TV Memorial Day Parade marathon (from the archive) for the rest of the day.

4. Order festival or picnic takeout from one of our local restaurants.

5. Request a Beyer Auto 2020 Memorial Day Un Fun Run t-shirt, and wear it all day #3kunfunrun

6. Make sure you wear a mask when you go out.

This won’t last forever. When Falls Church, along with the rest of Northern Virginia, enters Phase 1 and begins to reopen, we will be ready to work together to figure out what life looks like in Phases 2 and 3. It will involve things that feel uncomfortable at first, and eventually become part of everyday life. We will be wearing masks, staying apart and closer to home. We will always, always be looking out for one another.