Unannounced quick services were held in Kutztown to honor fallen veterans on Memorial Day.

Hoch Balthaser, American Legion Post 480, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 560 leadership decided to have quick Memorial Day ceremonies at the Veterans Memorial in the Kutztown Park, Fairview Cemetery and Hope Cemetery in Kutztown in lieu of the parades and full services and speeches.

"The leadership felt it important to still honor the fallen veterans on Memorial Day. This was accomplished by not having them announced," said Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel.

Only relatives of the participants in the ceremonies knew about the operation.

"If the public would have showed up, they would not have been turned away. We felt in order to comply with the social distancing rule we would not go public with what we had planned," said Schlegel. "Our mission was accomplished."

Three veterans and two Boy Scouts conducted quick ceremonies at each location. No program lasted longer than three minutes. Each site was decorated with either a wreath or flower boxes.

Commander Steve Hoare read a Memorial, Vice Commander ordered the Salute to the Dead and Commander Glenn Gotshall decorated some of the graves. During the salute to the Dead, "Taps" was played by buglers and members of Boy Scout Troop 101, Logan Boyer and Justin Diehl.

"Social distancing was practiced the whole time and we accomplished our mission of honoring the fallen veterans of all wars," said Schlegel.

On Memorial Day, Schlegel posted on his Facebook page a Memorial Day message, which included photos of the quick services.

"Memorial Day 2020 will go down in history as being unprecedented. This is due to the coronavirus pandemic," wrote Schlegel. "First of all it looked like we wouldn't have the flags to decorate the veterans' graves at the local cemeteries. Second we had to cancel the parade and services here in Kutztown.

"We all felt terrible that nothing would happen to remember our passed veterans," wrote Schlegel. "Finally things started to look up. we were able to get the flags."

Also, the Kutztown Fire Company Truck Crew was able to get enough flags to decorate the cemeteries from their members.

"The Scouts of Kutztown Troop 101 and other volunteers got the flags out in time," wrote Schlegel.

During the unannounced quick services, as in the past, the VFW picked a veteran's grave site at Fairview to place flowers. This year Vietnam veteran Jay Wentzel was randomly picked to be decorated.

At Hope Cemetery WWI veteran John Hoch's memorial was decorated.

"We decorate his memorial every year, because he is laid to rest in France where he died from his wounds during the war," wrote Schlegel.

Concluding his post, Schlegel wrote, "So until next year when we can hopefully have normal Memorial Day parades and services, Happy Memorial day everyone!"

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