The secretary of the Army and President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that the annual Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery will go on as scheduled next month, following backlash after the cemetery’s leadership cancelled the 2020 ceremony over COVID-19 concerns.
On Monday, Arlington National Cemetery announced that resting place for many of America’s honored fallen would not participate in the nationwide Wreaths Across America event slated on Dec. 19, voicing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic while citing the high volume of volunteers and visitors that descend upon the grounds. The notice was met overwhelmingly with disappointment and anger on social media, and several GOP lawmakers called for the decision to be reversed.
Former Navy SEAL officer Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) tweeted, “This decision to cancel #wreathsacrossamerica must be reversed immediately. Critical thinking must win out over emotion. Large areas, outside and well spaced, with masks on, is perfectly safe. Our fallen deserve to be remembered.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a former Army officer, wrote, “I encourage Army leaders to reconsider this decision. Thousands of people have marched in DC streets the past couple weekends for Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Surely volunteers can responsibly place wreaths on the graves of our fallen heroes at Arlington.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy announced, “I have directed Arlington National Cemetery to safely host Wreaths Across America. We appreciate the families and visitors who take time to honor and remember those who are laid to rest at our nation’s most hallowed ground.”
President Trump said the order came directly from him, declaring on Twitter, “I have reversed the ridiculous decision to cancel Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery. It will now go on!”
What is Wreaths Across America?
As The Blaze previously reported:
Wreaths Across America is a nationwide event held at cemeteries across the country, involving the laying of wreaths at the graves of America’s fallen heroes each December. Its stated mission is to “remember our fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve,” and “teach your children the value of freedom.”
The Wreaths Across America organization expressed its disappointment in Arlington’s decision, issuing a statement saying, “As an organization, we are shocked by this unexpected turn of events. To say we are devastated, would be an understatement.” The group noted that the event will still move forward at more than 2,400 other participating cemeteries across the U.S.