American Legion Holley-Riddle Post 21 in The Colony

Instead of having a traditional Memorial Day ceremony, the American Legion Holley-Riddle Post 21 in The Colony will host a safer and more intimate ceremony this year. Pictured are, from left, Stan Guillory, Keo Sumpon, Patricia Zuczek and Mary Garcia.

This year’s Memorial Day ceremony in The Colony will be different than in years past.

But at the same time it may end up being more personal than ever.

Leaders from the American Legion Holley-Riddle Post 21 in The Colony plan to have a drive-through ceremony this year as a way to honor veterans who have died, while staying safe during the decline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mary Garcia, honor guard captain for the post, said this year’s event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 31 at Five Star Complex. But unlike previous events that featured guest speakers, the laying of the memorial wreath and other ceremonial traditions to honor those lost in combat, this year’s event will be simpler and safer.

Garcia said TAPS will be played at the beginning of the ceremony.

Residents will arrive at the complex and form a line in their vehicles. Garcia and the post’s honor guard will greet the people in each vehicle.

One by one vehicles will drive through the line, and those inside can request a fallen veteran to be honored by filling out a card with their loved one’s name and branch of service.

Garcia said for each card she receives she will read the name and branch out loud. The post’s honor guard will ring a bell for each name she reads. 

“We’ll honor every request we get,” Garcia said.

She said the goal is to have at least 100 people drive through, and they don’t have to be residents of The Colony.

“Our remembrance ceremony focuses on honoring one veteran at a time,” Garcia said. “It is a personal moment we give these families to reflect. It may be a simple gesture but it comes with meaning and respect.”

Last year the post had an altered ceremony as COVID-19 was starting to ramp up. Social distancing requirements caused the ceremony to be limited to a drive-through event at the senior center.

“We did a test run on this last year, but this year it’s for the entire community,” Garcia said. “We want Little Elm and other neighboring communities to know about it, too.”

Garcia said next year the plan is to return to the traditional Memorial Day ceremony. But doing it this year was a little too soon, she said.

“We’re still encouraging large groups to stay social distanced,” Garcia said. “We were concerned (having the previous format) would keep more people from showing up this year.”

But Garcia is optimistic this format will be successful.

“This will be solemn, respectful and ceremonious at the same time,” she said.

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