50 years after the Vietnam War took their brother, a pandemic changed 2 sister’s mourning plans

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WASHINGTON — This Memorial Day will look a little different on the National Mall, WJLA reports. 

All of the ceremonies are being pre-recorded to air online. 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial held a quiet wreath-laying on Thursday, and two sisters who saw it called it serendipitous. 

There were no crowds and no flashing cameras. Just a peaceful breeze. 

“The setting today almost feels very appropriate,” said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks

A ceremony that will be viewed virtually by thousands on Monday was nearly a private gathering as the two wreaths were placed at the memorial. 

Sisters Faith Graffis and Mamie David come from a large family. 

“My mother had 17 children,” Mamie said. 

They were at the memorial to honor their brother Clifford Tarbell on the 50th anniversary of his death. 

“He was killed in action on April 11, 1970,” Faith said. He was 20 years old. 

“In his last letters, he was counting down the days to when he could come home,” Faith said. 

Unfortunately, the entire family couldn’t be there due to the pandemic, but when the sisters found themselves at the memorial on their parent’s anniversary during the special wreath laying ceremony, they say it was meant to be. 

For the first time in their two dozen trips to the wall, they were alone. 

The sisters were just 9 and 17 when Clifford died, and the pain is still there five decades later. 

But a peaceful moments with their big brother at the memorial helped some of that pain fade. 

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