SANTA FE, NM – Fort Bayard National Cemetery will be open for visitation from sunrise to sunset on Memorial Weekend. Due to current CDC guidelines and the COVID-19 pandemic, public events typically associated with Memorial Day, such as ceremonies and group placement of flags at gravesites, will not take place. Families and friends may continue the tradition of placing flowers and small American flags at their Veteran's gravesite.
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) made the difficult decision not to host public events on Memorial Day. Fort Bayard National Cemetery staff will have a small observance that is not open to the public. It will be photographed and posted on the National Cemetery Administration's website, Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also view the recorded Santa Fe National Cemetery ceremony on the New Mexico VA Health Care System Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VANewMexico at 10:00 a.m. Monday, May 25, 2020.
"We are committed to observing Memorial Day 2020 in a manner that honors those who sacrificed for our Nation while protecting the health and safety of visitors and our team members," said Cindy M. Van Bibber, Santa Fe/Fort Bayard National Cemetery Director.
NCA now has a virtual way for the public to pay tributes to Veterans at the Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM). The site, originally launched in 2019, contains a memorial page for each Veteran and service member interred in a VA national cemetery. VLM will permit online visitors to leave a comment of tribute on a Veteran's page, as a new way of introducing how we observe Memorial Day. The tribute allows visitors to voice memories and appreciation for a Veteran's service. All comments will be reviewed for appropriateness prior to being posted.
Visitors should keep safety in mind when visiting the cemetery and to abide by all federal, state, and local guidelines including social distancing and use of face masks. The cemetery urges the public to consider visiting Friday, Saturday or Sunday to avoid possible crowds on Memorial Day.
Visitors should "Know Before You Go," regarding the grave location of individuals they choose to visit over Memorial Day weekend. The cemetery is limiting staff contact with visitors and will not be able to assist the public in locating gravesites. The Gravesite Locator kiosk, located at the entrance to the Administrative Building, will not be operational because of concerns about sanitizing the unit and socially distancing visitors as they wait for the kiosk to become available. NCA has a mobile grave locator available for those who have mobile devices that can also be found at: m.va.gov/gravelocator/. The cemetery will also post QR codes on signs throughout the cemetery to help link the visitors to the site.