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Veteran bothered by VA’s decision for private Memorial Day ceremonies at national cemeteries

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) originally planned a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McPherson at 10 a.m. on May 31. Before Memorial Day, the VA decided not to host any public Memorial Day ceremonies at any of the 155 locations nationwide. Their reasoning behind this was due to the country just coming out of the pandemic. Many concerned citizens and veterans took to social media outraged and saddened by the decision.

“I never want to see this again, it is disrespectful to those of us who have served,” said Disabled Combat Veteran Keith Howell. “The ban from COVID-19 is being lifted. Why can’t they have a public ceremony for those who made this day possible by having a public ceremony? There are thousands of people nationwide gathering, having barbecues and everything else. There are no bans on them. Why are we being punished for this? It feels like a punishment.”

Howell showed up early to Fort McPherson National Cemetery near Maxwell, Nebraska to place flags and honor the fallen and those who served.

“Come today or tomorrow. If you find extra flags, bring them and put some down on graves that don’t have one, visit a family or friend,” said Howell. “They fought for our freedoms and gave their lives for it. That is a lot to ask for someone. Write a blank check to the government and they can cash however they want. For some of them cashed it with their lives.”

The VA says they plan on hosting a traditional ceremony in 2022.

“Who knows what is going to happen?” asked Howell. “Anything could come up. Despite whatever comes up, they need to show respect to the veterans that are buried here. Whatever they plan for next year, it is not going to make up for the damage they did this year.”