NY Official Blasts VA Ban of Memorial Day Tradition as ‘Perverse’ If Beaches Can Reopen Amid COVID-19

A New York county official is speaking out to blast the fact that a longtime Memorial Day tradition of honoring veterans has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fox News reported that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone urged the Department of Veteran Affairs to reconsider their decision on Sunday.

“It’s incredibly important this Memorial Day weekend that we take the opportunity to honor the fallen heroes,” Bellone said while appearing on “America’s News HQ.” “We have thousands of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that do this every year and they place these flags, and you’re really teaching the next generation the importance of sacrifice and what that means.”

For decades, both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have celebrated Memorial Day by placing American flags at the graves of military veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for America. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, the VA has banned all public events at military cemeteries.

Bellone’s district houses two military cemeteries at which over 500,000 veterans are buried, and he explained that they are prepared to follow through with the tradition while also following social distancing guidelines, should the VA rescind their ban.

“I think it’s critically important, even in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, that we do this,” he said.

The U.S. National Cemetery Administration, the agency within the VA that operates military cemeteries, said in a statement that in the case of Suffolk County’s location, “Long Island has not yet met the state criteria for reopening, which is why limits on social gatherings on Long Island are still in place.”

Bellone fired back by saying that it would be a “perverse situation” if many beaches in New York opened in time for Memorial Day weekend as planned, “yet the weekend we set aside to honor men and women who sacrifice for the country, we can’t figure out a way to simply place an American flag at their graves.”

“New York City… we’ve been at the heart of this… and it’s been devastating economically, the loss of life, but we’ve begun to reopen,” he added, concluding by urging the VA, “If we can do this, it’ll be a real shot in the arm, lift people’s spirits and send a message that we are coming back as a community, as a state and as a nation.”

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