A military honor guard fired last year for saying “God bless” has been restored to his position.
But he claims authorities went back on their word and continue to forbid him from uttering the familiar words of encouragement while presenting the flag to veterans’ families at funeral services, Fox News reports.
Patrick Cubbage, 54, a retired army sergeant, notes there are countless references to God and various religions at the Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in North Hanover, N.J.
And most all funeral services include a reference to God, he argues, but state military and Veterans’ Affairs officials want military chaplains and civilian clergy to handle the religious talk.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Vietnam combat veteran believed he was only following orders in giving the blessing as he presented a folded flag to family members.
He cited the federal flag presentation protocol detailed in training literature he was given when he began working as a part-time guardsman at the cemetery in October 2001.
Cubbage, a former Philadelphia police officer, said after being fired he renewed faith in his freedom of speech and religion, but that quickly changed.
“It’s freedom from religion, not freedom of religion,” he told Fox News.
Cubbage, who notes President Bush concludes his speeches with the phrase, says he would not invoke God if a family member objected, but claims that’s never happened in the 500 funerals in which he’s participated.
“Where’s the dignity for the veterans and the respect for their families at this flag presentation?” Cubbage asked, according to Fox. “Not only that – how about the courtesy to our own country to say God bless the United States of America? I mean, what’s so hard about that?”
Fox News found that an instructional video distributed by the Department of Defense includes a reference to God, in which a soldier says, “God Bless America.”
An attorney for Cubbage is threatening a lawsuit and taking his fight to Capitol Hill, according to Fox.
“We hope that we can get some legislation through Congress, which will basically solidify this in every cemetery in the country,” said John Whitehead, founder of the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group.
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