Somewhere along the lines,
the Department of Veterans Affairs has forgotten that one of the Freedoms the
veterans fought for was Freedom of Religion, not Freedom FROM Religion.
Last month, the VA made a
new policy to "streamline" burials at federal cemeteries by banning the
flag-folding cemetery at military funerals.
How outrageous is that!? They
made that decision in September, after someone filed a complaint about a
service at the Riverside
During the ceremony, the
Memorial Honor Guard folds the flag for presentation to the family. It makes 13 folds to represent the 13 original
colonies. While the folds are made, they
recite what each of the folds represents.
The complaint was about the 11th fold and the accompanying
recitation that describes it: "in
the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King
David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob". The 12th
fold relates to Christians, saying the fold "represents an emblem of
eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost."
The American Legion's flag
retirement (burning) ceremony invokes God "as they yield their substance
to the fire, may your holy light spread over us and bring our hearts renewed
devotion to God and country".
For those of you not
familiar with the ceremony, it is incredibly beautiful and moving. I had my Webelos Scouts perform it a Blue
& Gold banquet. You can read about
the ceremony on both usflag.org - a website
dedicated to the Flag of the United
States of America http://www.usflag.org/foldflag.html
and the Betsy Ross section of ushistory.org http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/more/folds.htm.
But now, because ONE person
who was offended for whatever reason has complained, the VA is saying NO
veteran can have the ceremony performed at their funeral.
According to Mona Joyce, a
spokesperson for the American Legion, members have been flooding their national
headquarters since learning of the decision.
"We definitely think is
a matter left up to the families," she said. "It's a nice ceremony;
we've been doing it for years. Our honor guards have been doing it.
It's respectful and it's
something the family should be able to choose to have done if they so wish for
their veteran," Joyce said.
The National Cemetery
Association's response is unbelievably lame.
They claim they are trying to create uniformity of services throughout
the military graveyard system. Mike
Nacincik says the 13-fold recital is not part of the US Flag-code and is not government
What about veteran
approved? "That the actions of one
disgruntled, whining, narcissistic and intolerant individual is preventing
veterans from getting the honors they deserve is truly an outrage," Rees
Lloyd, 59, said. "This is another attempt by secularist fanatics to
cleanse any reference to God." And
Bobby Castillo, an 85 year-old WWII Navy veteran calls it "a slap in the face
to every veteran."
He goes on to explain "when
we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot. We
just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever
complained to us about it. I just don't understand."
What do these guys know
about besides being veterans? Well, they
just happen to be part of a detail that has performed honors at more than 1,400
By the way, a whole DOZEN
congressmen have joined in signing and sending a letter to the Veterans
Affairs. What about the rest of them?
If you think this is as
WRONG as I do - contact your congressman, call your senator, jump up and down
and scream bloody murder that you are sick and tired of a miniscule group of
loud-mouthed whiners are taking away what so many have given their lives that
we might have!