UPDATED 10:18 AM PT – Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) upset veterans and the families of fallen service members by trying to redefine the meaning of Memorial Day. He received swift backlash for calling to remember essential COVID-19 workers on Memorial Day weekend. In a press conference last week, the Democrat asked New Yorkers to remember the 42,000 people in the state who had died from COVID-19, including 1,000 medical workers.
This Memorial Day weekend, flags will be flown at half-staff and NY landmarks will be illuminated in red, white & blue to honor essential workers who lost their lives to COVID-19.
We owe these brave individuals a profound thank you and hold them & their families in our thoughts.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 24, 2021
Additionally, the governor ordered flags to be flown at half-staff around the state on Sunday and landmarks, such as the World Trade Center Memorial, be lit to honor essential workers. Soon after, veterans spoke out condemning the insensitive move.
“This holiday, this weekend, when you raise your glass and you have your barbeque, it’s not about them,” a veteran expressed. “It’s about young men and young women who gave their lives, who will be forever young in the service of this nation.”
Parents of fallen soldiers also felt the decision lacked finesse.
“There are a number of days that recognize the military. Memorial Day is the only day about recognizing the fallen soldiers,” one individual explained. “…I disagree with the decision to commingle even if it’s Saturday, Sunday versus Monday. That weekend is Memorial Day weekend. That’s for a special group.”
Republicans in the state accused Cuomo of trying to redefine Memorial Day. State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-N.Y.) reflected on this matter.
“Every single one of us understands and appreciates the frontline workers,” he asserted. “If Governor 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.”
Cuomo’s office later insisted they were calling for essential workers to be remembered on Sunday, the day before Memorial Day. However, some critics still maintained using any day of Memorial Day weekend is unacceptable.