The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) has sparked outcries after prohibiting the traditional Memorial Day weekend flag placements in which the Boy Scouts participate.
“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, who oversees Calverton and Long Island National Cemeteries — the highest populated veteran cemeteries in the U.S. Bellone believes there is a way to keep the tradition and still remain safe.
“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,” he told Fox News. “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.”
“It’s definitely a very emotional, kind of moving experience. Personally, my Dad is a veteran,” 18-year-old Eagle Scout Kieran Monaghan said. “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.”
“It is understandable to a point,” Monaghan continued, “but I don’t think that it is unreasonable to be able to put a plan together to be able to still accomplish the same thing we have done year after year, still following social distancing guidelines, having everybody masked up, with gloves on. It’s definitely doable.”
The VA has released an official statement in response, explaining that “Long Island has not yet met the state criteria for re-opening, which is why limits on social gatherings on Long Island are still in place.”
But Bellone remains unmoved. “We just commemorated VE Day, this is the generation that lived through the adversity of the great depression, they won World War II,” he said. “What is it going to say about our generation if we can’t figure out a way to honor the greatest generation by placing flags at their graves on Memorial Day?”