Community members recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a Memorial Day ceremony in 2019 hosted by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.
Community members recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a Memorial Day ceremony in 2019 hosted by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation at the Santa Barbara Cemetery. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk file photo)

Santa Barbara County will commemorate Memorial Day this year with a mixture of virtual and in-person ceremonies along with some alternative events.

Monday will mark the holiday set aside to honor fallen warriors, but the COVID-19 crisis will prompt some changes to events planned in some communities and the cancellation of others.

“As we wage war against COVID-19, which is causing us to make major changes to our way of life, it is important to continue time-honored traditions that give us purpose along with a sense of normalcy during these challenging times,” Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation representatives said in announcing their plans. “While we’ve temporarily given up certain freedoms in order to protect our health and that of others, we mustn’t forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives during times our country was engaged in war on foreign soil.”

The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation’s 2020 Memorial Day community event can be viewed at 4 p.m. Monday via a televised broadcast on local ABC affiliate KEYT, Channel 3.

After the broadcast, the program will be available on the foundation’s website at

This year’s ceremony will feature a traditional bagpipe processional at the Santa Barbara Cemetery. The opening statement will be given by PCVF board chairman and retired Air Force Col. Philip Conran, a 30-year veteran with a highly decorated career.

The main speaker will be Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

Others participants will include Brig. Gen. Fred Lopez, who has served more than 30 years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserve and was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service medal, and PCVF co-founder and retired Navy Lt. John Blankenship speaking about the work of service members involved on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will conclude with a solo bugle performance of “Taps” and a missing man flyover formation.

At 11 a.m. Monday at the Santa Maria Cemetery, veterans organizations will host a ceremony where Mastalir also is scheduled to speak.

Additionally, service clubs will present wreaths and fallen veterans will be remembered with a rifle salute and “Taps.”

Retired Air Force Capt. Michael Stadnick Jr., from the Santa Maria Valley Veteran Honor Guard, will serve as master of ceremonies.

The Carpinteria Lions Club again will put on the community’s Memorial Day program but will have a limited number of participants to avoid having a large gathering, per cemetery officials.

In lieu of the normal gathering size, Carpinteria city leaders have arranged to record the program to be shown on the city’s government TV channel 21, with times to be included on the city’s website by clicking here.

While the Santa Ynez Valley will forgo its traditional cemetery and downtown ceremonies, the Flat Fender Club of jeeps and military vehicles will parade through Solvang with members of veterans groups at 10 a.m. Monday. The trek will start at the Solvang Veterans Hall and will travel through all of the towns of the valley

Despite the restrictions, most communities still plan to recognize fallen veterans by placing flags on their graves at various cemeteries.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said its cemeteries will hold brief wreath-laying ceremonies closed to the public but available virtually with links to be posted online, available by clicking here, as they occur Monday.

The PCVF’s Blankenship said that honoring fallen heroes and demonstrating America’s resilience by prevailing over adversity caused by COVID-19 — the invisible enemy — remains important.

“To be killed in war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst that can happen. … To be forgotten is the worst,” the foundation’s founder, Pierre Claeyssens, once said, a saying that serves as the basis of the organization’s mission.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.