'ABSURD': Arlington Cemetery Faces Backlash After Canceling Wreaths Across America

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Posted: Nov 17, 2020 9:10 AM
'ABSURD': Arlington Cemetery Faces Backlash After Canceling Wreaths Across America

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Yesterday Arlington National Cemetery announced the cancelation of Wreaths Across America, an annual and volunteer based tradition, due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. 

"Due to the current COVID-19 situation across the nation and within the National Capital Region, it is with great regret that Arlington National Cemetery is canceling Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home Cemetery on December 19, 2020," a press release states. "Following a thorough analysis of the annual Wreaths Across America Wreaths-In event this year, and in close collaboration with the Joint Task Force, National Capital Region, we determined that we could not implement sufficient controls to mitigate the risks associated with hosting an event of this size under current and forecasted infection and transmission rates, while still conducting a respectful and honorable public event."

Those in charge of the decision said it was not made lightly. 

“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,” Executive Director, Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Karen Durham-Aguilera said. “We reviewed various options to safely execute this long standing event and held numerous consultations with WAA leadership and local government and public health officials. We understand that although this is disappointing for so many, we could no longer envision a way to safely accommodate the large number of visitors we typically host during this event.”

Former Navy SEAL and Congressman Dan Crenshaw is calling for the decision to be reversed. 

Gold Star Mother Karen Vaughn, whose son Aaron Vaughn is buried in Arlington, is calling the move absurd. Vaughn was killed nearly ten years ago in Afghanistan after his Chinook helicopter was shot down. Other families are also weighing in.