The US Army on Tuesday revealed that it has instructed the Arlington National Cemetery to host the Wreaths Across America Day event honoring fallen veterans after the event was canceled Monday evening due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Secretary of the Army has directed Arlington National Cemetery to safely host Wreaths Across America,” the Army said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon, which was obtained by The Hill. “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
Shortly after the Army released its statement, Trump tweeted that he had “reversed the ridiculous decision” to cancel the event.
"It will now go on!" he added.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2020
Wreaths Across America on Monday announced the cancellation of the event, saying in a Tweet that it was “shocked by this unexpected turn of events.”
“It has been a trying year for all, and we too, want all our volunteers, donors and their communities to remain safe,” the statement added. “This is why over the last six months, the team at Wreaths has been working tirelessly with local, state and national officials to ensure that all of our outdoor wreath-placement events are done so safely, following local rules and mandates.”
The initial decision to cancel the event was met with criticism by prominent leaders.
US Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) urged Army leaders to “reconsider” the decision to cancel the event.
"Thousands of people have marched in DC streets the past couple weekends for Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Surely volunteers can responsibly place wreaths on the graves of our fallen heroes at Arlington,” Cotton tweeted Monday.
In addition, US Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a former Navy SEAL officer, said the cancellation “must be reversed immediately.”
“Critical thinking must win out over emotion,” he tweeted Monday. “Large areas, outside and well spaced, with masks on, is perfectly safe. Our fallen deserve to be remembered.”
Wreaths Across America Day takes place in December every year and is dedicated to remembering and honoring US veterans. This year, the event will be commemorated on December 19. Volunteers across the US recognize the day by holding wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,100 additional cemetery locations across the US.
"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," Wreaths Across America writes on its website.