After criticism from Republican lawmakers and public outcry, President Donald Trump on Tuesday reversed a decision by the Arlington National Cemetery to cancel its annual Wreaths Across America, an annual event that draws thousands of volunteers to lay holiday wreaths on headstones throughout the cemetery, Breitbart reports.
“I have reversed the ridiculous decision to cancel Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “It will now go on!”
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
Earlier Tuesday, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy also announced a reversal of the decision.
“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,” he wrote.
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
The reversal comes a day after Arlington National Cemetery canceled the event planned next month, saying it could not mitigate the risk to thousands of visitors and cemetery staff in the midst of an escalating pandemic.
“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,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the Office of Army Cemeteries, said in a statement.
“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.”
Wreaths Across America protested the decision in a statement on Facebook.
“Like our U.S. Military, we will adjust and adapt, and work together towards fulfilling the mission which is to Remember, Honor and Teach,” they wrote.
Durham-Aguilera’s original statement was removed from the cemetery’s website and replaced with a new statement saying “the Secretary of the Army has directed Arlington National Cemetery to safely host Wreaths Across America.”
The cemetery will provide an update on the final schedule soon.