With a large contingency of major community gatherings canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 battle cry for “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders, lower valley Veterans Day observances was a virus casualty in our pandemic conflict.

On Wednesday, November 11, there were creative acknowledgements around town honoring our local veterans by Sunnyside High School Leadership with an online salute to our hometown heroes.

The Class teamed up with Bon Vino’s to celebrate veterans with a cup of coffee, pastry and heartfelt rose.

Some communities chose alternate ways to combat the pandemic fear. Instead they hosted a curbside breakfast pick-up and delivery and held an intimate downtown procession.

This year, we were left on our own resolution to reflect in solemn silence to proudly commemorate the courageous men and women who have and continue to serve in America’s Armed Forces – safeguarding our democracy and defending our freedom.

Governor Jay Inslee’s orders to restrict gatherings to less than five to 10 people kept local American Legion Posts from hosting their annual events. They complied since they didn’t want to accidently expose the public to the airborne virus.

The canceled veteran events were followed by yet cancelation of popular holiday event – the Sunnyside Rotary’s Lighted Farm Implement Parade. This announcement came just days before the Yakima Health District posted an 80-person surge in COVID-19 cases, pointing to a possible new spike locally and statewide.

Despite these disappointments, each day we try to adapt to our new norm of finding ways to overcome these adverse conditions and celebrate successes, like the reopening of schools.

Even our recent highly contentious presidential election saw more people making every effort to ensure their vote was counted.

Voters wore masks, practiced social distancing as they mailed, hand delivered, or stood in long lines for hours just to turn in their ballots, intent on being part of our most cherished privilege – our right to vote.

The election is over for most of us – we each had our say, and it was heard.

We must always rise up to the challenges before us to celebrate our veterans and to honor them for their service.

It’s the democratic foundation of what America was built upon.

Patrick Shelby for the Sunnyside Sun editorial board. PShelby@sunnysidesun.com

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