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Memorial Day 2020: Solemn Ceremonies Across Tri-State Take On New Tone Due To Coronavirus

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It's one of the most solemn holidays in our country, and the coronavirus pandemic didn't stop Americans from paying tribute this Memorial Day.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and wife Chirlane McCray placed wreaths at the Brooklyn War Memorial in Downtown Brooklyn.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo marked the holiday at a poignant ceremony on board the USS Intrepid where he and daughter Michaela helped toss a wreath into the Hudson River.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy attended a ceremony at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas takes a look at other ways the brave are being remembered.

The pandemic had to alter this year's Memorial Day parade in Nassau County, but the reverence is still the same.

"Something we had to do, no matter what," said Ralph Espizito of Veterans Services Nassau County.

Veterans and area residents lined the street at Eisenhower Park to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who died while fighting for our freedom.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran laid a wreath at the Veterans Memorial, while a 21 gun salute marked the somber occasion.

"How do we measure up to that greatest generation? I think we can do it by not being divided, by knowing what unites us and never, ever take for granted the freedoms that we have in this country," Curran said.

Congressman Peter King was also in attendance.

There were American flags, bagpipes and salutes like in years past, but there were also face masks and social distancing measures.

"We know that we are celebrating differently this year," Curran said over the roar of engines. "It's so important that we take this time to honor those who have died protecting our freedoms."

WATCH LIVE NOW: Long Island commemorates Memorial Day with car parade and wreath laying ceremony.

Posted by CBS New York on Monday, May 25, 2020

Meantime, the Intrepid did not have hundreds on the aircraft carrier, but instead commemorated the heroic sacrifices during a special virtual program.

Click here to watch the Intrepid's annual commemoration

Still, many of the traditions, including laying wreaths on the Hudson River by Cuomo and Navy Commander Jay Yelon, who also serves as a trauma surgeon on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We also pay our respects to former crew members who lost their lives due to COVID-19. They will always be in our hearts," said Stuart Gelband, President of the Intrepid Former Crewmembers Association, who served on board the ship from 1970-72.

This year, the sacrifice of war takes on new meaning, extending beyond the battlefield into our everyday lives.

The ceremony at the Intrepid honored the lives lost both past and present, in foreign lands and right here at home.

"As much as we may be quarantined in our homes we're still free. And we still have the opportunity to do many, many things knowing that we'll back to some sort of normal as the days progress," said Intrepid Museum President Susan Marenoff-Zausner.

With so much on pause across the state, gratitude still has no restrictions, reminding us about the impact of individual sacrifice for the common good.

Murphy presided over a somber ceremony in New Jersey, while also wearing a mask.

"I say this each Memorial Day, and perhaps with all that is going on around us today, these words will take on an even more special meaning. We do not celebrate Memorial Day, we commemorate this day," he said. "This is a solemn day - a day to remember our hallowed and fallen dead, a day to remember those who gave to this nation their full measure.

"Today we also remember the many honored veterans who survive wars only to die at the hands of COVID-19. I have the task every day of leading our state and remembering the fellow New Jerseyans we have lost to this pandemic. Few of these memorials are harder than when it is a member of our greatest generation who helped save the world from hate and fascism, or a Korean War veteran, or a member of our Vietnam generation who received their welcome home far too late, or frankly any time we lose a veteran," he continued. "Each and every one of them remain in our prayers. They will always be members of our New Jersey family and we honor them all."

Governor Murphy Attends Memorial Day Commemoration by New Jersey Office of the Governor on YouTube

The national observance at Arlington National Cemetery was also closed to the public and held virtually instead. Only family members visiting the graves of loved ones were allowed on cemetery grounds.

The national Memorial Day concert isn't taking place this year, but PBS aired a special program of taped performances.

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