New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Memorial Day would honor essential workers who have died during the pandemic, on the federal holiday that is meant to celebrate military members who gave their lives serving our country.
Cuomo tweeted that flags will be flown at half-mast over the weekend and all New York landmarks are to be lit up in red, white, and blue to “honor” the frontline workers who fell to the coronavirus. “We owe these brave individuals a profound thank you and hold them & their families in our thoughts,” he wrote.
But state Republicans are pushing back against the order and accusing Cuomo of trying to reinvent the holiday for his own purposes.
New York State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay tweeted, “The governor’s attempt to redefine this weekend’s recognition and unilaterally transform Memorial Day Weekend into his own COVID remembrance insults the countless men and women who fought and died for this country.”
He pointed out that the holiday was first established in Waterloo, NY to honor soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice, and while he “understands and appreciates” what frontline workers did during the pandemic, the holiday belongs to military service members.
“If Gov. Cuomo is incapable of carrying the same understanding and appreciation for America’s fallen heroes and their families, the least he can do is stay out of the way,” he wrote.
Memorial Day was first established in Waterloo, New York to honor fallen soldiers and over the years has become one of America’s most cherished traditions.
If Gov. Cuomo is incapable of carrying the same understanding and appreciation, the least he can do is stay out of the way pic.twitter.com/Ke5D0XUOnL
— Will Barclay (@WillABarclay) May 25, 2021
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt, an Army Veteran who won the Bronze Star Medal, says Cuomo should apologize for trying to co-opt the holiday. “I know apologies and contrition don’t come easy to him, but this is one area where it should. That is the right thing to clarify that this was a gross misstep,” Ortt commented.
He’s not against honoring pandemic workers, just not on Memorial Day. “Again, we should recognize the sacrifice that our essential workers and frontline workers paid during this pandemic, some with their lives, but there are plenty of other days we can do that without diminishing, taking away or conflating what this weekend and this holiday really means,” he went on.
He too referred to the holiday’s origins within the state. “It’s a somber holiday, as well as one where we celebrate that we have people in this country who continue to raise their hand and give their lives for our way of life,” Ortt concluded. “That’s what it’s about and it started here in New York and our own governor either doesn’t appreciate that or didn’t know that, and that’s unfortunate.”