HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) One of the most well-known veteran memorials in the Tri-State won’t go up as scheduled this year because of the pandemic.
The Memorial Day Cross Display in Henderson, composed of more than 5,000 crosses, is postponed.
Central Park in Henderson becomes a somber and reflective place when more than five thousand crosses are placed near the courthouse. But next month, it will feel much quieter without the memorial.
Every May since the mid-1940s, they stand in honor of those who lost their lives.
“It’s reminiscent of Arlington,” says Ken Christopher of the Henderson War Memorial Foundation. “I can walk down every single row and find friends and people that I served with in Vietnam that have names that we recognize.”
“It’s very interesting. Very solemn,” adds Malcolm “Mac” Neel of the foundation.
Next month, those crosses will be missing, leaving a large void during that very solemn time.
“It hurts,” Christopher says. “This is a tradition that we keep alive in honor of those who started it and the people who continued it since 1947. It gives you a gut ache that it’s not going to happen.”
Foundation members, who help the American Legion post in Henderson in the memorial and Memorial Day service, say the layout makes it hard for people to keep socially distancing while paying tribute.
“We can’t take the risk of somebody getting sick, and nobody really knows how long this is going to be an issue. We decided to err on the side of caution,” says Neel.
On Facebook, Henderson City Commissioner Brad Staton said the city considered plans for volunteers to wear protective gear and separate areas in park to keep groups under 10 people. He adds while the crosses won’t be out, it doesn’t stop the reason they would’ve been up in the first place.
“It hurts to see the names on the crosses and know those people are missing that they’re no longer part of our community, but they remain a part of our community in our heart,” Christopher says.
Organizers say those crosses could go up later this year possibly this fall, closer to Veterans Day.
They’re also looking at placing a single monument in place of the traditional memorial for next month.
(This story was originally published on April 30, 2020)