Despite the governor's stay-at-home advisory, the Town of Arlington asked residents to line Massachusetts Ave. Wednesday morning — while maintaining social distancing — to pay respects to an Air Force veteran who recently passed away.
Mary Foley died Saturday at 93. According to a release from Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, she was a Korean and Vietnam-era veteran and does not have any living family members.
Because the military has suspended funeral honors due to the coronavirus, the Arlington police are providing a funeral escort for her burial while the fire department is performing honors for Foley. She was slated to be the grand marshal of Arlington's Patriots Day parade later this month. She will be buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden.
The town requested residents to line up along Mass. Ave. for the procession as it makes its way to the cemetery.
In an interview with WGBH News, Chapdelaine said the town consulted with its director of public health and director of health and human services before making the request to residents to gather outside.
"Some may view it as a mixed message," he said. "We didn't view this as really being any different than people going out for a walk as many seem to be doing to pass the time while we're under this stay-at-home advisory, as long as people are maintaining safe social distancing."
He emphasized that it was not a parade or an extended procession.
"So [we] definitely understand the feelings of it being a mixed message, but if people conduct themselves in a safe manner, this brief opportunity to honor someone's service as they're being transported to the cemetery, we thought, was a meaningful and otherwise safe thing to do," Chapdelaine said.