The Boy Scouts of America will be unable to plant American flags on veterans’ graves this Memorial Day due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
The VA has prohibited public events at veteran cemeteries due to social distancing guidelines, which will prevent the annual placement of the flags. This news has Boy Scouts and public officials alike frustrated – they still want to pay their respects.
“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,” said Suffolk County (New York) Executive Steve Bellone.
“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.”
In response to Bellone’s request, the National Cemetery Administration says that Long Island has “not yet met the state criteria for re-opening,” and that social gathering limits will remain in place.
“Families of veterans are still able to attend the gravesites and can place American flags there if they desire,” they added, according to MSN.
“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,” Bellone added.
“It’s definitely a very emotional, kind of moving experience. Personally, my Dad is a veteran,” 18-year-old Eagle Scout Kieran Monaghan said about the tradition. “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.”
Boy Scouts in states across the nation, including California, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin, have all been forced to cancel their flag-placing tradition.
“I hope we are able to put the flags down on the graves and pay our respects,” Monaghan said.