Not even COVID-19 could stop a century of Memorial Day traditions in Belgium

Not even COVID-19 could stop a century of Memorial Day traditions in Belgium

For nearly 100 years, the American Overseas Memorial Day Association in Belgium has ensured that public ceremonies are held to honor America’s fallen. Yet with current regulations prohibiting public gatherings, more than 20 Memorial Day ceremonies in Belgium were cancelled this year, most for the first time since 1923. Resolute that COVID-19 would not get in the way of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge and the end of WWII, the Association turned to interactive technology to remember America’s fallen. More than 3,700 people attended the interactive ceremony.

This year’s public Memorial Day ceremony took place as a unique live and interactive “.commemoration” on Monday, May 25, 2020 at 18.00 (GMT+1) on a dedicated platform: www.memorialdayonline.com. U.S. Ambassador Ronald Gidwitz opened the ceremony live from Belgium. Additional speakers included Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, General John Love, United States Military Representative to NATO, mayors, WWII veterans, and many others. 

When innovation meets purpose.

The online occasion developed by Accenture Interactive Belux is unique for its combined livestream and social interaction experience. The public were not only able to watch the event live but could be a part of it in real time. As the ceremony unfolded, viewers could choose to watch the livestream alone, or to invite up to eight people in a virtual ‘seating area’ in order to experience the ceremony together as they would at the actual events. More than 3,700 people attended the ceremony.

 

Participants were also invited to lay a virtual rose in honor of all men and women who have died in military service for the United States. Of the more than 500,000 American service members who died during World Wars I and II, more than 14,000 are buried in Belgium.

“When we learned that COVID-19 threatened to halt these events we felt compelled to act and support this project. There is a big difference between simply watching a video of a significant event and actually experiencing that event in person. Impressions are deeper. Memories last longer. And there is a value to being part of something larger than ourselves. We are honored to merge innovation with purpose to effectively ‘uncancel’ Memorial Day in Belgium, in a year when the meaning of freedom has more significance than ever.”, says Gert Pauwels, managing director, Accenture Interactive Belux.