Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other groups have reportedly been banned from the annual tradition of placing American flags on the graves of veterans on Memorial Day due to the pandemic.
The U.S. National Cemetery Administration, the agency within the the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, said because of the “national emergency, VA national cemeteries will not be hosting public Memorial Day events,” and that includes “mass placement of gravesite flags,” per Fox News in a piece published Wednesday. (RELATED: REPORT: Coachella Potentially Rescheduled To October Due To Coronavirus Fears)
One county in New York hopes to reverse the decision to prevent the organization’s annual tradition of honoring the nation’s heroes and said it will follow the guidelines in an attempt to keep people safe during the pandemic.
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“If we can’t figure out a way to make sure we are placing flags at their graves to honor them, then something is seriously wrong,” said Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, whose county includes the Calverton and Long Island National Cemeteries, where more veterans reside than anywhere else in the nation, according to Fox News. (RELATED: Broadway Star Nick Cordero’s Wife Says He Has Opened His Eyes During Coronavirus Health Update)
“What we’re asking the VA to do is, rather than have a blanket policy across the country, allow the national cemeteries at the local level, to make this determination in conjunction with the local health department,” Bellone told the outlet. “We will take the responsibility to say that this flag placement plan meets the state and national guidelines but give us that opportunity to do it, allow us to honor our fallen heroes.”
A statement from the Boy Scouts of America to The Daily Caller read:
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) takes pride in our Scouts’ efforts to honor our nation’s fallen heroes. Our youth members learn the importance of duty to country and honoring the people who served it through the values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.
As an organization and as individuals, we also appreciate the responsibility we have to conduct these efforts in accordance with local, state and federal health guidelines. The BSA instructs all our participants to adhere to applicable guidelines and practice appropriate social distancing at all times. Our local councils will continue to monitor regulations in their area and will work with local officials to honor our veterans in a manner that protects the safety of our Scouts, volunteers, employees, and communities.
Kieran Monaghan, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout, who has been placing flags on the graves of fallen heroes for the last 5 years, said he is sure the tradition can be done safely.
“It’s definitely a very emotional, kind of moving experience,” Monaghan shared. “Personally, my Dad is a veteran. He was deployed in Iraq for a year. It’s good to be able to pay our respects to our fallen heroes, it’s important to me, it’s important to the Boy Scouts, it’s important to the community and it’s something that I would hate to see go.”