New York marks 'especially poignant' Memorial Day amid virus

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A bugler plays Taps as a motorcade of veterans stops outside the VA Medical Center for a wreath laying ceremony beside memorial stones on the premises, Monday, May 25, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK – New Yorkers marked Memorial Day with car convoys and small ceremonies instead of big parades as the coronavirus reshaped the solemn holiday, blending tributes to virus victims and frontline workers with the traditional remembrance of the nation's war dead.

In a year that marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, veterans wore masks and saluted while standing at social-distancing intervals at observances shrunk by virus precautions.

At the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan — the former aircraft carrier USS Intrepid — Gov. Andrew Cuomo honored both veterans and essential workers on a Memorial Day he called “especially poignant and powerful.”

“We know something about loss, and we’re living it again,” the Democratic governor said.

In Rochester, officials looked ahead to the construction of the city's War on Terror Memorial. In Long Island's Nassau County, a small group of veterans in masks saluted flag-bedecked vehicles at a car parade and wreath-laying that was closed to the public but streamed online.

In Brooklyn, about 30 to 40 cars, including an old-style checkered cab, rode along the route usually covered by marchers at the United Military Veterans of Kings County parade.

They finished by circling a Veterans Affairs hospital, many honking their horns, and laying a wreath near monuments at the hospital’s fence.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to do anything,” said parade chairman Raymond Aalbue. But he said he didn’t want the parade "to die on my watch.”