SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending any event with 50 or more people be cancelled, but despite that, a crowd showed up for the annual Sargent William Jasper Ceremony as they held a scaled-back version of the event.
The annual laying of the wreath at the Sgt. Jasper monument took place despite concerns over coronavirus, though the somber ceremony was smaller than in years past.
U.S. Representative Buddy Carter said he came to show his respect.
“It’s important for me to show our community that life does go on. We have to be cautious, we have to heed the advice of the experts, but at the same time, it is a very special time for us and I wanted to make sure that the Irish community in particular knows that we support them.”
Sgt. Jasper was fatally wounded during the Siege of Savannah in 1779 and is regarded as a hero.
O.C. Fowler, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and President of the Savannah Navy League isn’t Irish, but says he felt called to attend the ceremony.
“It’s important for us to remember the veterans today and it just gives you a warm feeling when they say ‘thank you for your service.’”
After the prayer and the laying of the wreath, the crowd came together, singing ‘God Bless America’, reminding everyone just how resilient we are.
Though the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been called off, Irish Savannahians are trying to stay positive.
“We’re going to make the most of it, and we’ll do it again next year if the situation is favorable, and actually, we’ll remember this for a long time,” said Tom O’Brien, who attended the ceremony.
As for St. Patrick’s Day, the 2020 Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal Mike Roush says he plans to still walk the parade route on the sidewalks in the morning to honor the people of Savannah, and fellow Irish Americans.
“I’m definitely honored for being the Grand Marshal, and I want to do something for them.”
Rep. Carter added that while the cancellations are disappointing, public health and safety have to come first.