CARL RUSSO PHOTOS: It felt good to remember together.

Monday’s Memorial Day observances were the first opportunities over the past 14 months for the Merrimack Valley public to stand together without masks. It was fittingly a time to remember.

Hosts and visitors gathered around flags and flowers, gravestones and monuments to pay their respects.

As always, veterans, fallen veterans, were at the forefront of people’s minds.

But this year, after 594,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. — 80 percent of the dead over 65 years old, many of them veterans — other losses were also on people’s minds.