SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- While Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, it's also a somber holiday, as we honor those who have given their lives for our country.

Many ceremonies are going virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the City of Springfield held theirs today.

"In your way, take the time to honor these veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Springfield's Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Sarno delivered a proclamation on Friday, ahead of Memorial Day on Monday.

The coronavirus weighing heavily on the minds of those at the small ceremony in downtown Springfield, as they painted the pandemic against the backdrop of the sacrifices made by fallen veterans.

"As we look at the challenges created by the pandemic, nationally and internationally, never miss the point, that 2-percent of the American people lost their lives during the Civil War," said Congressman Richard Neal.

Neal taking time during Friday's event to remember the 74 Holyoke Soldiers' Home veteran residents who have lost their lives due to the COVID-19.

He also said people need to put things in perspective, when it comes to what is being asked of them.

"The sacrifice that's being asked of all of us, in terms of social distancing, and making sure there are six feet between all of us, using masks, seems to be proportionately minimal to what was asked during the Civil War."

Just before officials laid wreaths at the city's veteran monuments, Thomas Belton, the city's director of veteran services, expanded on that sentiment.

"No man should be entitled to the blessing of freedom unless he is willing to preserve that freedom, period," Belton said.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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