When Jimm Mooney heard there might not be a ceremony in the veterans section at Mount Hope Cemetery on Memorial Day due to the pandemic, his reaction was immediate.
“Something has to happen,” said Mooney, senior pastor and founder with Veterans Hope Ministries in Baker City.
And something has.
Or, rather, something will.
Mooney, whose organization is dedicated to helping Baker County veterans and their families, has put together a brief program starting at 11 a.m. Monday at the cemetery.
Army veteran Summer Curry will speak, and Mooney will offer a prayer.
Bugler Duncan Pierce will play taps.
The ceremony will be different from past years due to coronavirus precautions, said Mooney, who served for 14ﬁ years in the U.S. Army.
Although everyone is invited to attend, Mooney said the plan is to limit the size of any single group to 25, to comply with the limit in the state’s phase one reopening guidelines. And in each group social distancing will be encouraged.
“We don’t want to be huddled into a single group like we may be used to in years past,” Mooney wrote in a post on the Veterans Hope Ministries Facebook page. “Smaller groups scattered throughout the cemetery would be a better plan at this point.”
Volunteers will be placing large American flags to create the traditional Avenue of Flags in the cemetery on Monday morning starting at 6 a.m. Volunteers are also needed to remove the flags starting at 5 p.m. on Monday. Volunteers can call Doug Riggs at 541-519-7424.
Veterans Hope Ministries
Mooney said he and his wife, Shellie, have been talking with local veterans for many years, trying to understand what services could help veterans and their families.
He said their ultimate goal is to start a Veterans Hope Center in Baker City where veterans could gather to take part in a variety of activities, including art, woodworking and potentially classes in entrepreneurship and other topics.
Art, in particular, can be an effective therapy for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, Mooney said.
He said he has talked with many local veterans who also want to volunteer in the community but aren’t sure how to get started. Helping connect those veterans to volunteer opportunities is another of Mooney’s goals.
He said he was gratified that several businesses and residents, with just a few days notice, donated money to buy smaller flags that will be placed on veterans’ graves at Mount Hope Cemetery today.