KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An annual tradition of the Reading of the Names and the American Legion Post 2 Memorial Day Ceremony looked different this year. Instead of the usual crowds, the ceremony went online.

The 2020 Virtual Reading of the Names at World’s Fair Park in Knoxville kept its importance and value within the community, but the audience that normally packs the East Tennessee Veteran’s Memorial at sunrise, was virtual.

Streaming the ceremony for the first time in the 11-year history of this specific event, the organizers say it was a change they made with no question, to ensure the safety of the public, but also, to make the important ceremony accessible to all.

“We’re also taking the time to reflect on the tremendous sacrifice for the names engraved on the memorial have done for our country,” said Scott Suchomski, Board President of the East Tennessee Veteran’s Memorial Association.

Those reading the names wore masks and stayed socially distant from each other. Hand sanitizer was also available.

“We will not forget these people that are on these walls. No matter what’s going on, pandemic or otherwise, if we can get out here to do it, we will do it,” said Michael Testerman, Commander of the American Legion Post 2.

Next year, organizers say they have every intention to hold the ceremony as they normally would, with an audience.

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