Lawmakers, veterans call on Arlington National Cemetery to reverse Wreaths Across America cancellation

Lawmakers, veterans call on Arlington National Cemetery to reverse Wreaths Across America cancellation

Lawmakers and U.S. military veterans are calling on Arlington National Cemetery to reconsider its decision to cancel its annual Wreaths Across America program, which honors fallen soldiers with wreaths all over the country and abroad.

The cemetery announced Monday that they are canceling the event that had been scheduled for December 19 at Arlington National Cemetery and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home Cemetery due to coronavirus concerns.

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“I encourage Army leaders to reconsider this decision,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., tweeted in response to the news. “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.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, himself a veteran, also urged the cemetery to reconsider, citing measures that could be taken to protect attendees.

“This decision to cancel #wreathsacrossamerica must be reversed immediately. Critical thinking must win out over emotion,” Crenshaw said in a tweet. “Large areas, outside and well spaced, with masks on, is perfectly safe. Our fallen deserve to be remembered.”

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In a press release, Arlington National Cemetery said that it had conducted a “thorough analysis” of how to safely conduct the event before ultimately deciding to cancel. 

“We did not make this decision lightly. Despite the controls developed to disperse potential crowds in time and space, and required personal safety protocols, we determined that hosting any event of this scale risked compromising our ability to accomplish our core mission of laying veterans and their eligible family members to rest,” Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera said in a statement.

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The Wreaths Across America organization, meanwhile, said that they had been “working tirelessly with local, state and national officials” to make sure the outdoor events are carried out safely and within local regulations.

“As an organization, we are shocked by this unexpected turn of events,” they said in a statement. “To say we are devastated, would be an understatement.”

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