Rep. Mast blasts Biden administration for ending vets' Memorial Day motorcycle tradition
Pentagon will not give space to veterans for annual Memorial Day demonstration. Reaction from AMVETS executive director Joe Chenelly.
"Memorial Day traditions like Rolling to Remember have been granted permits by every administration, Democrat and Republican, for the past 30 years. The Biden Administration's decision to end this Memorial Day tradition flies in the face of the freedoms that so many have died to protect," Rep. Mast said in a statement to Fox News.
"We are blessed beyond words to be citizens of the greatest country on Earth and only live free thanks to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. But sadly right now, in Joe Biden's America, it is easier to cross the border illegally than it is to get a permit to pay our respects to our nation's fallen heroes."
Pentagon Special Events confirmed AMVETS' permit for Rolling to Remember on March 11 but later revoked the permit. Mast wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urging him to "promptly approve" the permit in April. Mast, a 12-year Army veteran, worked as a bomb disposal expert and lost both his legs while deployed in Afghanistan.
"Our biggest disappointment with the Pentagon's decision here was that they never gave us an opporuntiy, despite us asking many times, to be able to present a plan of how we would be able to meet at the Pentagon parking lot outdoors in a safe, responsible way," AMVETS' national executive director Joe Chennelly told "Fox & Friends First" on Monday.
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., gives troops a tour in the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
"What, traditionally, this event has been all about is our missing in action. We have more than 80,000 Americans who are still missing in action since World War II," Chennelly continued. "We are committed to still having a central staging area. ... We have a Plan B and a Plan C."
AMVETS will know by the end of this week whether Plan B, staging near RFK Stadium, pans out, Chennelly said.
The Pentagon blamed coronavirus risks for the decision.
"The department took into careful consideration all aspects of AMVETS request, to include the current Health Protection Condition status on the Pentagon Reservation; substantial community transmission of COVID-19 in Arlington County, Virginia; number of Americans fully vaccinated across the nation; nature of this event with its decreased ability to maintain physical distance; and large crowds in one location for an extended period of time," the Pentagon said in a statement according to 7News.
"This event draws national attention and participation; therefore the risk of exposure from participants from other communities extends well beyond the National Capital Region."
"If COVID-19 conditions permit, the department would gladly consider supporting a future event request from AMVETS, potentially as soon as this Labor Day weekend. The department looks forward to supporting future events with AMVETS," the Pentagon's statement continued.
The coronavirus pandemic forced Rolling to Remember to go virtual in 2020.