Memorial Day: Boy Scouts banned from planting flags on veterans’ graves due to the coronavirus pandemic

Boy scouts saluting at US Flags at 2014 Memorial Day Event, Los Angeles National Cemetery, California.
Boy scouts saluting at US Flags at 2014 Memorial Day Event, Los Angeles National Cemetery, California. (Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A Memorial Day tradition held for decades has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but groups like the Boy Scouts are persistent to keep it alive.

The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the U.S. National Cemetery Association prohibited public events at all memorial sites due to COVID-19, which barred the Boy Scouts and other groups from doing mass flag placements, Fox News reported.

Both organizations say due to the “national emergency," VA ceremonies will not be hosting public ceremony events, including mass flag placements at gravesites.

Long Island, NY is home to two of the nation’s largest cemeteries with 500,000 military veterans buried.

“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,” Executive Steve Bellone of Suffolk County, NY told Fox News. "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.”

Bellone says he is confident officials can carry out an alternative plan that would keep the scouts safe. But New York State officials indicated they still have not met the criteria for reopening, according to a statement from Suffolk County obtained by Fox News.

“Families and community members are welcome to visit national cemeteries throughout Memorial Day weekend and place individual flags on graves to honor friends and family,” the National Cemetery Association said in a statement. “We ask that all visitors adhere to CDC, state and local health, safety, and travel guidelines.”

Boy Scout troops from California, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin have cancelled their flag placement plans for now, but they are hopeful they will have a chance later this summer to conduct them.

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