Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., accused the Biden administration of blocking the annual Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally, a 30-year-plus Memorial Day tradition for military that has always been staged in the defense parking lot.
“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,” Mast said in a statement. “But the Biden Administration seems intent on restricting that freedom, and now, even restricting Memorial Day ceremonies. Preventing a tradition like Rolling to Remember flies in the face of the freedoms that so many have died to protect.”
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In a letter, Mast urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to “promptly approve” the permit being sought by AMVETS, the post-World War II veterans organization that now runs Rolling to Remember (formerly known as Rolling Thunder).
“I can confirm that we received the letter from Rep. Brian Mast. As with other congressional correspondence, we will respond directly to the member of Congress,” Pentagon spokewsoman Sue Gough told Fox News in a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic cancelled 2020’s motorcycle rally.
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., left, visits with National Guard troops who are helping with security at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
((AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))
Pentagon Special Events confirmed AMVETS’ permit on March 11 but revoked the permit citing a “routing error,” Mast said.
“The Pentagon Parking lot has been used as a staging ground for Memorial Day events for decades. AMVETS relies on this staging ground as it is the largest public parking area in close proximity to Washington D.C. and has proved an ideal staging ground for more than 30 years,” Mast wrote in the letter. “The event is now only a month away, and further delays could jeopardize this important Memorial Day event.”
Gough told Stars & Stripes that “there’s been no decision yet” and that the permit request “is still being evaluated in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chennelly is worried the group will have to scramble for a Plan B.
“We’ve been trying to really be good partners in all of this and not blast the Pentagon, but we’ve gotten to point recently where we have to put the pressure on them,” Chennelly told Stars & Stripes.
Mast, a 12-year Army veteran, worked as a bomb disposal expert and lost both his legs while deployed in Afghanistan.