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Biden’s Pentagon cites pandemic to deny AmVets’ ‘Rolling to Remember’ bike rally, despite 32 yr. tradition

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The Pentagon revoked a parking permit to an American veteran’s group on the grounds that the declining COVID-19 pandemic makes holding their annual event too risky.

American Veterans, or AmVets, have staged their “Rolling to Remember” rally in front of the Pentagon for 32 straight years, but the Defense Department’s reversal of an earlier decision to grant a parking permit to the group this year marks an end to the tradition or, at least, a break in it.

Now, according to ABC7, the group will attempt to secure a parking permit at RFK Stadium, a now-defunct former venue for the NFL’s then-Washington Redskins that is slated for demolition this year.

“Unfortunately, the department has disapproved AMVETS permit request,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“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. This event draws national attention and participation; therefore the risk of exposure from participants from other communities extends well beyond the National Capital Region,” the statement continued.

“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 statement added. “The department looks forward to supporting future events with AMVETS, and as always, we appreciate AMVETS’ support of our veterans, their families, and their communities, including promoting better awareness of veterans’ issues, as well as AMVETS continued support for our missing-in-action service members.”

AmVets Executive Director Joe Chennelly told ABC7 he was informed that the size and length of the staging event was a factor in the Pentagon’s reversal.

“A gentleman at the Pentagon told me that after careful consideration, our permit application was denied. He said considerations involved the continued spread of COVID-19 in the region and the nature of our event being that we are proposing a large gathering for an extended period of time,” he said.

But organizers of the annual event said they had been waiting almost a year for the Defense Department to respond to a permit request for Memorial Day weekend that generally attracts thousands of motorcycle-riding veterans to the Washington, D.C. area. ABC7 reported that while Pentagon officials declined to be interviewed on camera, one said the permit had initially been approved in March.

“The Pentagon’s denial comes on the heels of the Smithsonian announcing last week that it will reopen eight of its facilities to the public in May, starting with the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly on Wednesday, May 5,” the outlet reported. “Additional museums and the National Zoo will open Friday, May 14, and Friday, May 21.”

Meanwhile, officials with the United States Holocaust Museum said they will reopen the facility on May 17 but will only allow a certain number of people inside. Also, visitors will be required to wear a mask, socially distance, and undergo temperature checks before entering.

Despite the Pentagon’s reversal, Chenelly said AmVet members were still planning on being in the nation’s capital over the Memorial Day holiday.

“We are seeing it on websites and social media all over the place. Much smaller groups. They’re planning their own smaller rallying points and they’re coming in,” he told the local outlet.

“It’s very disappointing and for our members,” Chenelly added. “There’s been shock and deep disappointment expressed to us.”

Many were critical of the Pentagon’s decision, including freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), while some speculated that it was political retribution against a group generally perceived as conservative and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“This administration truly is a disgrace. How could they deny our veterans this tradition?” she wrote on Twitter.

This is unacceptable @SecDef. AmVets has honored our brothers and sisters who didn’t come home for 32 years. This gives a perception of political retaliation after the disgusting implications by Biden admin that vets are extremists. This is NOT a good look for @DeptofDefense,” wrote former Marine Gunnery Sgt. and 2020 Trump advisory board member Jessie Jane Duff added.

Others voiced their opposition as well.

Jon Dougherty

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