Flags line the road of a cemetery in northeast Iowa.

Memorial Day observances in most cities across Iowa , and nationwide, will be much different this year because of the pandemic.

In northeast Iowa, Earlville Legion Commander Loras Mensen says he decided to change things up to maintain social distancing rules while still honoring veterans.  “Instead of having a big ceremony up in the cemetery, we’re going to ask everybody in town to dig out their old combat boots, decorate them up and set them outside so they can be seen,” Mensen says. “If you don’t have a place to display them in town in front of your house, we’re going to have them set them up by the fence at the cemetery. We’ll have a row of them there.”

At 10 a.m. on Monday, veterans and their supporters will gather in their vehicles at the Earlville Civic Center.  “We’re just going to have a procession through town: pickups, golf carts, cars,” Mensen says. “We’re just going to go through town and end up at the cemetery about 11 o’clock and then we’re going to have a three-round volley and play ‘Taps.'”

Members of the Legion spent part of last weekend placing small American flags at veterans’ headstones. Larger flags will be posted across the cemetery on Saturday.

(By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)