The Pentagon has denied a permit for the annual Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally, which occurs in Washington, D.C., each Memorial Day to honor POW/MIA veterans, Breitbart reported.
The event, which is put on by the American Veterans (AMVETS) organization, is usually held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and is known as the “Rolling Thunder” ride in honor of fallen American service members.
According to the Washington Examiner, the 32-year-old tradition gathers biker veterans from across the country to ride around the nation’s capital in remembrance of those who never returned home from the nation’s wars,
AMVETS has sent permit requests and petitions for the event to multiple federal agencies. “AMVETS received approval from the Department of Transportation, the Department of Interior, and multiple other state and local authorities,” according to a press release from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
The Pentagon initially granted AMVETS permission to hold the event in March, but they later revoked the permit without explanation.
The Pentagon later verified the denial. In a statement to WJLA-TV in Washington, the department cited the coronavirus pandemic, stating that “the risk of exposure from participants from other communities extends well beyond the National Capital Region.”
“[i]f 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.
Responding to the Pentagon’s decision, Joe Chenelly, the national executive director of AMVETS, said:
“There are no options with as much space and convenient routes to the memorials, meaning it will be more difficult, disruptive, and expensive than if the Pentagon parking lots were available.”
For many years, the vast Pentagon parking lot has long served as the rallying point for the trip, allowing veterans to meet and prepare before setting out on their bikes for the processional ride from the Department of Defense to the war memorials on the National Mall.
“Memorial Day traditions like Rolling to Remember have been granted permits by every administration, Democrat and Republican, for the past 30 years,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) told Fox News in a statement. “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.
“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.”
According to the New York Post, Mast is an Army veteran who lost both his legs to an IED while serving in Afghanistan in 2010,
“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,” the Florida lawmaker added.
“The biggest disappointment in the Pentagon’s denial was that AMVETS was ignored for months as its professional staff in Washington requested numerous times an opportunity to hear the Defense Department’s concerns and present a [coronavirus] safety plan,” said Jan Brown, the national commander of AMVETS.
“The Biden Administration is making a terrible mistake by blocking a veteran’s charity from the use of the Pentagon parking lot for the Rolling to Remember POW/MIA remembrance motorcycle ride,” Rep Darrell Issa said in a statement. “This last-minute rejection, a first of its kind in more than 30 years, leaves patriotic veterans without a safe alternative.”
“Leading up to the decision, the Pentagon refused to talk with event organizers,” Issa added. “They refused to respond to Congress about this topic. And now they are claiming COVID as an excuse.”
“Just days ago, President Biden hosted a drive-in rally in Georgia. The Rolling to Remember event is no less safe,” Issa concluded. “The only difference is the politics that are denying veterans the opportunity to honor their fallen comrades. If patriotic veterans are not welcome at the Pentagon, are they truly welcome anywhere in the Biden Administration?”
The Biden Administration is making a terrible mistake by blocking a veterans charity from the use of Pentagon parking for the Rolling to Remember POW/MIA remembrance motorcycle ride. Sadly, the decision seems to be more about politics than safety.https://t.co/rENBxexDRI
— Rep. Darrell Issa (@repdarrellissa) May 3, 2021
In April, Issa and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) wrote to the Department of Defense, questioning the decision.
Calvert also issued an updated statement on the subject, criticizing the decision of the Biden administration and the Pentagon.
“I’m disappointed by the Pentagon’s denial of AMVET’s permit for the Rolling to Remember event,” Calvert said. “It’s also frustrating to hear that the Pentagon staff failed to even engage in meaningful discussions to see how this outdoor event could take place in a safe manner.”
“At a time when President Biden can find a way to hold outdoor political events, it’s shocking his administration can’t find a way to help our veterans do the same,” Calvert added.
AMVETS national executive director, Joe Chenelly, told Fox News that the organization was committed to maintaining “a central staging area.” He should know by the end of the week if “Plan B,” which included staging near RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., would work or not.