Monday, May 18, 2020

Boy Scouts banned from Memorial Day tradition of placing flags on veterans graves due to coronavirus

Nationwide, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have been banned from placing flags on veterans graves on Memorial Day.


The situation is in flux, and will benefit from scrutiny.  That's why I've requested expedited treatment of my FOIA request under federal law.  I look forward to questioning the Honorable Randy Reeves, Under Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in charge of national cemeteries.

We did not read about this in the incredible shrinking St. Augustine Record.  

Here in our Nation's Oldest City, we're at the tip of the word of GANNETT's eviscerating our already-thin local newspaper. That means news events aren't covered adequately in our hometown paper any longer.

Case in point: the ill-advised ban on scouts placing flags on graves at cemeteries.

Fortunately, this policy decision came to my attention locally, and I'm investigating

The decision may be reversed.

I've asked Rep. Michael Waltz to help.  The decision is being reviewed.  I feel confident that we might persuaded Undersecretary of Veterans of Affairs Randy Reeves to defer to local officials and conditions, as suggested by  Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Long Island, N.Y.

From Washington Examiner:

Boy Scouts banned from Memorial Day tradition of placing flags on veterans graves due to coronavirus by Andrew Mark Miller
| May 13, 2020 02:05 PM
Washington Examiner

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.

Local officials in Long Island, New York, home to two national cemeteries with over 500,000 veterans buried there, aren’t happy with the VA’s decision.

"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," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in response to the news.

Bellone believes that the tradition can continue safely and responsibly.

"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,” Bellone said. “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.”

The National Cemetery Administration responded to Bellone by saying that Long Island has “not yet met the state criteria for re-opening,” which means that social gathering limits must remain in place, but added that families of veterans are still able to attend the gravesites and can place American flags there if they desire.

"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.”

He added, "I hope we are able to put the flags down on the graves and pay our respects.”

Boy Scouts troops in California, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin have all been forced to cancel their flag-placing plans.

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