Veteran and Florida lawmaker Rep. Brian Mast is revved up after the Defense Department denied a permit to a veterans group planning to use the Pentagon parking lot as a jumping-off point for the annual “Rolling to Remember” ride in honor of fallen American service members.
The event, which is put on by the American Veterans (AMVETS) organization, is traditionally held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and was long known as the “Rolling Thunder” ride. The event was forced to go virtual in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Memorial Day traditions like Rolling to Remember have been granted permits by every administration, Democrat and Republican, for the past 30 years,” Rep. 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,” continued Mast, 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.”
Fox reported that the Pentagon confirmed a permit on March 11 for AMVETS to stage the Rolling to Remember ride, but later revoked it.
In a statement to WJLA-TV in Washington, the department cited the coronavirus pandemic, saying “the risk of exposure from participants from other communities extends well beyond the National Capital Region.”
The Pentagon statement added that “[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.”
AMVETS national executive director Joe Chenelly told Fox News Monday that the group was “committed to still having a central staging area” and added that he would know by the end of this week whether “Plan B” – staging near RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. – would pan out.