Memorial Day, When We Honor Our Fallen Soldiers, Shouldn’t Be Controversial

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Memorial Day is one of the most solemn and important national holidays in the United States.

We gather with family and friends to remember the soldiers who have fallen in battle ever since our founders—fueled by faith and imbued with ambition—created our great nation.

On the last Monday of every May, we honor those who have perished in service to the U.S.A. We have parades, cookouts, ceremonies, backyard gatherings. As the summer begins, we take a moment to pause, reflect, and recall all those who sacrificed so much for our future.

Known earlier as Decoration Day and dating back to Civil War times, when loved ones would decorate soldiers’ gravesites with flowers, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday in 1971 through an act of Congress.

Each year, volunteers place American flags at the headstones of our fallen military in cemeteries across the nation, including at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Related: Gary Sinise Launches New Network for Veterans

Members of the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, and many other members of veterans’ groups and volunteers also place red poppies on crosses at the graves of our heroes—a tradition of remembrance inspired by the 1915 poem, “In Flanders Field,” by John McCrae.

Today, however, a woke agenda and partisan politics appear to be threatening some of the celebrations of this cherished holiday.

man in black uniform standing on gray concrete floor during daytime

For example, the Pentagon under Joe Biden has denied a veterans group permission to peacefully gather outside together for a motorcycle rally in the Pentagon’s parking lot.

The Pentagon says the denial is due to concerns about the coronavirus.

But as Fox News reported exclusively this morning, Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) and more than 30 other GOP members of Congress are asking Biden in a letter on Tuesday to override that controversial decision to block the veterans group from holding their event.

“I would have hoped that President Biden would have more respect for a Memorial Day tradition, which raises awareness of the 82,000 service members who are still missing in action and that 22 veterans die by suicide each day,” Mast told Fox News.

“That is why today, I along with 33 of my House colleagues, are urging President Biden to reverse his administration’s decision and grant Rolling to Remember their permit request to use the Pentagon’s parking lot,” Mast also said.

Fox News also noted, “Pentagon Special Events confirmed AMVETS’ permit for the Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally on March 11 but later reversed its decision. Mast previously wrote a letter in April to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urging him to ‘promptly approve’ the permit. Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Lee Zeldin of New York, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Chip Roy of Texas, and Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania, signed Mast’s latest letter.”

Related: Teen Carves American Flags to Help Homeless Vets

Mast, an Army veteran who earned the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, the Purple Heart and other awards, also made this point last week on “The Faulkner Focus”: “If you look at the facts that BLM can get a riot permit in Washington, D.C., with COVID going on at the exact same time, how do you not allow veterans into the parking lot, the 70-acre parking lot of the Pentagon, in this 20-year plus tradition? Total politics in my opinion,” Mast told the Fox News program.

white tombstone in cemetery

While deployed to Afghanistan, Mast worked as a bomb disposal expert under the elite Joint Special Operations Command, as his biography notes. The last improvised explosive device that he found resulted in grave injuries—including the loss of both legs. He recovered at Walter Reed Medical Center—and after that, inspired by advice from his father, “dedicated himself to finding new ways to serve our country and his community.”  

In addition to the Pentagon’s denial of a permit for the Rolling to Remember event in D.C., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration denied permission—at first—for the United Staten Island Veterans group to hold its annual parade this year for Memorial Day.

Now, however, after pushback from veterans’ groups and others, that decision has been reversed as of Monday—and de Blasio’s administration will allow the parade. The controversy was first reported in the Staten Island Advance, which also shared the latest updates.

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Maureen Mackey is a writer, editor, web content executive, and regular contributor to Christian News Journal.

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