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The California American Legion is calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider a ban that effectively removes “God” from honor guard flag folding ceremonies at veterans’ funerals.
Several legion leaders say the ban might as well be rescinded, because it will be ignored anyway.
A memo from Steve Muro, director of the Veterans Affairs’ office of field programs, bans use of a recitation about the meaning of the 13 folds of the flag, which produce the famous star-covered triangle. The recitation references God several times.
“Effective immediately all national cemeteries are to refrain from distributing any handouts on ‘The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag,’ remove any postings from all cemetery buildings and discontinue our VA-Sponsored Volunteer Honor Guards from using the handout as a script at a committal service during the folding of the flag,” the directive said.
It’s apparently just the latest effort by government officials to remove references to Christianity from public life. WND reported last week that officials at the Washington Monument are displaying a replica of the monument’s aluminum cap in a way that hide’s an inscription calling for praise to God.
Rees Lloyd, director of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project for the American Legion Department of California, told WND a campaign has been launched to rescind the Veterans Affairs order.
“We in the California American Legion have called on the VA to reconsider and rescind its outrageous ban and allow the families of the deceased veterans to determine what will or will not be included in the military funeral service,” he said.
“Our American Legion Riverside Post 79 MHD Team 12 has also stated we will defy the ban and follow the wishes of the families,” he said. “Such issues should be decided by the veterans’ families, not by bureaucrats and lawyers in Washington, D.C., covering their own behinds in [fear] of lawsuits by the ACLU and others of its ilk on behalf of disgruntled atheists, agnostics, liberal secular-cleansing fanatics, or Islamist jihadists who are offended by references to God.
“We will defy them and the VA itself and conduct the military services as the families dictate, not as government bureaucrats and bureaucratic lawyers dictate,” he said.
The folds, they say, represent:
- Symbol of life
- Symbol of our belief in eternal life
- In honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of his life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world
- Our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance
- A tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, ‘Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong’
- Where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
- A tribute to our armed forces.
- A tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
- A tribute to womanhood
- A tribute to father
- 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
- In the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.
- When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, ‘In God We Trust'”
It was No. 11 that caused the problem, according to Muro’s memo.
“There are various versions of the script circulating by anonymous authors,” he said. “Some of those scripts are religious in nature and also ascribe meaning to the individual folds put into the flag. We have recently received a complaint sent to the president of the United States that there was a gross error in the handout with reference to the 11th fold ‘… glorifying the Gods (sic) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.”
“The National Cemetery Administration must not give meaning, or appear to give meaning to the folds of the flag by endorsing or distributing any handouts on ‘The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag,'” Muro said.
Lloyd said the nationwide ban results from the complaint of one “disgruntled individual who was offended by the reading of the Flag Folding Ceremony at Riverside national Cemetery in California, particularly citing the 11th Fold, which makes the statement of fact that our Jewish citizens worship the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'”
“For God and country forever; surrender to the ACLU – never!” he said.
It’s “another attempt by secularist fanatics to cleanse any reference to God,” said Lloyd, who is part of a detail that has performed military honors at more than 1,400 memorial services.
Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the California legion, said he’s taking a simpler route and will advise volunteers to ignore the instructions.
“There are 26 million veterans in this country, and they’re not going to take us all to prison,” he said.
Some versions also note there’s one symbol evident even after the flag is fully folded:
“It takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the Untied States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.”
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