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Gold Star families and Republican lawmakers are enraged after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that healthcare workers who lost their lives would be honored on Memorial Day weekend.
“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,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter. “We owe these brave individuals a profound thank you and hold them & their families in our thoughts.”
Critics say essential workers deserve to be honored, but not on Memorial Day.
“We have Memorial Day to honor our fallen and we have Veteran’s Day to honor our veterans. Our essential workers do deserve that, but our fallen heroes deserve this weekend and Memorial Day to be about them,” Gold Star wife Michelle Garcia told NEWS12.
We remember those who gave their lives on Memorial Day. Gave their lives for this country. Gave their lives for freedom because freedom isn’t free, Cuomo said.
“I also think we should remember this past year, remember on Memorial Day, remember the 42,000 New Yorkers who died. 42,000. Remember the 1,000 essential workers who died giving their life,” the governor added.
Governor Should Apologize
New York Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said the governor said the governor’s action was offensive and diminished a holiday set aside to honor soldiers who died in service to the country.
“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 told Fox News Channel. “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.”
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.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 24, 2021
We owe these brave individuals a profound thank you and hold them & their families in our thoughts.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a former first responder, told NEWS12 that his county will not participate in the directive. Day said it was a “sickening effort to co-opt the true meaning of Memorial Day.”
Democrats Defend Decision to Honor Healthcare Workers
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, defended the administration’s decision to honor both groups.
“Memorial Day, which honors soldiers who paid the ultimate price to defend this nation, is Monday and we are honoring those who stayed on the front lines and paid for it with their lives to help us fight this pandemic the day before. This isn’t either/ or and surely there is enough space in our hearts to honor all these heroes in one weekend,” he wrote in a statement.”
The New York State Health Department issued an apology – noting that no offense had been intended against fallen American heroes.
“We apologize for implying that NY’s May 30 tribute to essential workers overlaps Memorial Day honors,” the department said. “On Memorial Day, May 31 we recognize the sacrifices of those who fell for their country. They will never be forgotten or overshadowed.”
But the apology further enraged Republicans.
“Every single one of us understands and appreciates the frontline workers who gave so much during this pandemic,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said. “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.”