Memorial Day Traditions Must Not Be Killed By Covid-19

Memorial Day Traditions Must Not Be Killed By Covid-19

Memorial Day Traditions Must Not Be Killed By Covid-19

This year, for the first time in my memory, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has banned the Boy Scouts of America from placing the flag of the United States of America on the graves of military veterans in military cemeteries for Memorial Day. Fear of Covid-19 has cancelled this truly American tradition.

This hurts my heart more than I can say. Not only am I the daughter of a Marine currently standing a heavenly post, I am the mother of an active duty Army officer and the aunt of a Sergeant in the Army National Guard. I am friends with seven Gold Star Families. For the Gold Star Families, I am angry that their children won’t be honored on this Memorial Day. The Koprinces, Hamburgers, Frosts, Morrises, Harrisons, Grinders, and Alfords will not be able to watch the Boy Scouts walk up to the graves, place the flag in the ground, step back, say the veteran’s name and salute.

As you can see, the Boy Scouts just don’t shove the stick flag into the ground. Before the Boy Scouts begin, at least at The Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery on Lyon’s View Pike, there is a speaker, sometimes the POW/MIA Table Ceremony, an invocation, and a twenty-one gun salute. Then, the Boy Scouts, veterans and other members of the public begin quietly and reverently placing flags on the grave. We place pennies on the gravestones.

Watch this video and see the reverence of the Boy Scouts:

Why do we go through with this ceremony every year? We remember and honor the sacrifices of those who served, we honor their families and we teach the next generation. Every year, Bernie Koprince, mother of Lance Cpl. William C. Koprince, Jr., asks me to read at the Wreaths Across America ceremony. The quote from President Ronald Reagan sums up why:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

These United States are united by our Constitution and our shared heritage. Children no longer learn our history in government schools. It is days of observance like Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the Fourth of July where families must teach our children the history and importance of that history.

The Washington Examiner wrote on the statement by Veterans Affairs:

The coronavirus has caused the cancellation of a longtime Memorial Day tradition where Boy Scouts place American flags on the graves of military veterans.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has prohibited public events at veteran cemeteries, which means that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are banned from placing flags on the graves like they have done for decades, according to Fox News.

The U.S. National Cemetery Administration said that the national cemeteries run by the VA will not be hosting events due to the “national emergency” as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.

According to another Washington Examiner article, cemeteries will allow the public to visit and will have flags available for placement on the graves. The VA will also live stream events and allow Boy Scouts to make on line tributes.

This is not the point of the Memorial Day flag placement. It is the act of publicly honoring, as a community, the sacrifice of those who have gone before us. It is teaching the next generation the importance of honoring our history. It is having a flag on every grave, not just the graves of those with local, living family.

We must make a stand. Our local officials and medical experts have abetted Covid-19 in killing jobs and our economy. We cannot let them kill Memorial Day. It will be the death of our history and future.

Featured Image: Bill Dickinson/ Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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