Members of the U.S. military have been vilified for their service and have faced criminal charges for battlefield decisions and congressional accusations of rampant “hate crimes.” Now a California post office also has banned photographs of local soldiers who are defending their country.
“It’s an emotional issue and people look at their post office as a hub of the community, but the post office is there to do postal business and it’s not a place to post things or make displays,” postal spokesman Richard Maher told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
The newspaper reported that “a customer” had complained that the display, which over the years has featured dozens of photos of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many whose relatives use the Paso Robles Post Office, was pro-war.
The “complaint” made its way to the regional post center, where officials asked Paso Robles postmaster Mike Milby to remove them, for being in violation of a rule against displays of non-postal business material.
Signs at the countor this week said: “We are being forced to remove the pictures from our wall of our boys and girls in the military. Please ask for your pictures back.”
The newspaper reported clerks were facing a barrage of questions, mostly from people expressing dismay.
The action also caught the attention of U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.
“Supporting our local heroes’ bravery and sacrifice is common sense. That is why I am troubled with the Paso Robles Post Office’s removal of pictures honoring the sacrifice of our brave men and women serving in the Armed Forces,” he said. “I am in contact with the Postal Service to get a clear answer of why this happened and determine what actions can be taken.”
His spokesman, Nick Bouknight, said McCarthy will try to restore the photographs, even if it requires changing postal rules to do that.
Participants in a forum set up by the newspaper were fuming.
“What an outrage that because a person has an opinion that opinion takes precedent over everything else. I have an opinion that the person who made the statement causing the display to be removed is ignorant and completely without compassion. I think they should lose all the freedom that comes with being an American citizen. Oh but wait! That’s just MY opinion!!!” wrote “lavenderbabe.”
Added “Jmbreland,” “No surprise here. As a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, one of my jobs is to help soldiers resolve problems with their employers when they are deployed. Believe it or not, the U.S. Postal Service is one of the worst about giving its employees grief when they’re called up to serve. I wouldn’t expect anything better than this from them.”
“This has the ACLU’s filthy fingerprints all over it,” said “DowntownBob.”
A retired Marine, Melvin Leppla, called for simple humanity.
“There is one aspect that some are overlooking here. It’s called the human factor. The pictures of our servicemen and servicewomen on display aren’t propaganda posters promoting pro-war, these are pictures of human beings, fellow Americans, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, aunties, and uncles. They bleed, they cry, they miss their loved ones without measure and all those faces in those pictures have one commonality. They do not want to be forgotten.
There are those that [cry], we must follow the postal regulations, yes, just like we must follow the speed limit, feed the parking meter, and not fudge on our taxes. We are the most over-regulated society in the world, but please tell me what harm is there in having pictures of relatives, friends and neighbors of Paso Robles on display?”
Attacking members of the service has been popular of late. As WND reported, Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., recently trashed the collective reputations of millions of U.S. military service members in order to advance their “hate crimes” legislation, which would make it a crime to utter a negative opinion about homosexuals or their lifestyle, a pro-family group says.
The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment by Kennedy and Smith to install in federal law a ban on such expressions of religious and personal opinion. The amendment was added to the Department of Defense Authorization bill, which is needed to keep funding worldwide U.S. military operations.
“[The] senators humiliate[d] our brave men and women in uniform by alleging that America’s military is a haven for bigots committing ‘hate crimes’,” said Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America.
“The Defense Authorization bill has been twisted to shamelessly smear our military. Alleged crimes by military members are already prosecuted, so the point of an amendment accusing military members of committing ‘hate crimes’ is to create the perception that America’s military is rife with violent bigots,” Wright said.
The “hate crimes” plan has been pending for some time, but to make the plan pertinent to the military spending plan, the senators cited the immediate need for such remedies in the military.
WND also reported that a number of Marines are facing court hearings from their battlefield decisions in Haditha, Al-Anbar province, Iraq, after U.S. Rep John Murtha, D-Pa., incited by an inflammatory “Time” magazine headline accusing Marines of “massacring” civilians, described the Marines as killers.
WND also reported when former president candidate John Kerry used soldiers’ funerals to solicit campaign help.
He solicited the families of slain soldiers at their sons’ funerals as part of his campaign to undermine the president’s policy in Iraq, charged Melanie Morgan and Catherine Moy in their new book “American Mourning”.
Moy said the book documents an April 2004 incident in which a Kerry campaign representative visited parents of a fallen U.S. soldier at his funeral to ask them to speak out against President Bush.
“A woman, who had also lost her son in the war and who represented the local Kerry campaign, approached the Johnsons at their son – Justin’s – wake. Justin was laid out in his Army uniform as the woman began her speech about hating Bush and helping Kerry. She asked the Johnsons to speak out against President Bush,” the authors said.