Memorial Day

DFW National Cemetery Honors Fallen Service Members With Private Memorial Day Ceremony

Instead of a public Memorial Day program, there was a solemn salute Monday at the Dallas-Fort Worth National cemetery to honor the fallen

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It’s something you don’t expect to see on Memorial Day - at DFW National Cemetery - rows and rows of tombstone with hardly anyone in sight.

In keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which include limiting large gatherings, big groups, many who are volunteers, can’t place flags at grave sites, which means not every tombstone will have an American flag.

“I’ve been doing this for 29 years. And this is the first time there hasn’t really been a Memorial Day program for the public,” said Larry Williams, Director of the DFW National Cemetery.

Williams, and a handful of people gathered under grey clouds for a private wreath-laying ceremony.

There were words of remembrance, and then it was over in 15 minutes.

“It’s much different with, what, a dozen or so of us here? Instead of 8-to-10,000 people,” says Gary Poplin. He retired from the Navy, and laid the wreath during the ceremony.

Teresa Soto-Baxter, wiped away tears at her father’s gravesite.

“It makes me feel sad because there are people who are buried here, and they didn’t have anyone to mourn them,” said Soto-Baxter.

She says her father died at age 48, of a brain aneurysm.

She visits the cemetery often, and the Dallas school, named in his honor.

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“It’s called Celestino M. Soto Jr. Elementary. So that’s where I really feel close to him. I take my son there to show him that’s his grandpa he never got to meet,” said Soto-Baxter.

She hopes, despite the pandemic, that people come out to honor veterans - with a flag and words of thanks.

DFW National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 67,000 veterans and their family members.

Cemetery staff are asking people who visit to follow CDC guidelines and follow social distancing practices.

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