Wreaths Across America is back on at Arlington National Cemetery after President Trump reversed a “ridiculous” decision to cancel the event in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, President Trump announced on Twitter that Arlington National Cemetery will host Wreaths Across America following a wave of backlash on social media. “I have reversed the ridiculous decision to cancel Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery. It will now go on!” the president tweeted.
I have reversed the ridiculous decision to cancel Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery. It will now go on!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2020
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy also announced that the event was back on after he directed Arlington National Cemetery to resume activities.
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.
— SecArmy (@SecArmy) November 17, 2020
Congressman and Veteran Dan Crenshaw was among those on social media who opposed the cancellation, tweeting, “Reverse your decision.”
Reverse your decision. https://t.co/KxWGShfdxX
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) November 17, 2020
Each year on December 19, Wreaths Across America upholds their commitment to “remember, honor and teach” by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at over 2,100 locations across the United States, at sea and abroad, including Arlington National Cemetery.
The decision to cancel the annual event shocked the Wreaths Across America organization, who coordinates thousands of volunteers on National Wreaths Across America Day annually.
Karen Worcester, of Wreaths Across America, was emotional during a press conference Tuesday announcing the reversal. She said it’s “been a difficult year for everybody” and while the number of volunteers will be significantly reduced compared to the thousands in years past, she was relieved that the organization’s event will go on.
“We will carry out our mission,” Worcester assured reporters.
According to the cemetery’s website, they will “safely” host the event and “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.”
In Arlington’s initial press release announcing the cancelation, executive director of the Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Karen Durham-Aguilera said they did not make the 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,” Durham-Aguilera stated.
When asked about Durham-Aguilera’s concerns, Worcester said she was “positive” Wreaths Across America would not hamper Arlington National Cemetery’s ability to law veterans to rest.
“In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season,” the organization’s website stated. “We hope you will join us at any of our more than 2,100 participating locations to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget. We will never forget.”
During the press conference, Worcester choked up as she read a message from her son Michael that expressed the importance of honoring America’s fallen heroes.
“Mom, if there is anything that the coronavirus has taught us, it’s that it is very easy to go along with “normal activities” being canceled for the “greater good.” Many of these activities will fade away to never return and some will return in only a shadow of what it used to be,” Worcester read. “Remembering our fallen service men and women cannot and will not be one of these ‘used to be’ activities.”
She continued, “Do you think for one moment, any of those brave men and women would have thought twice before running into battle? Why would it even be an option to take a year off from Remembering and Honoring them?”