A Battlefield Cross marker — made up of a helmet, a rifle and a pair of boots — is one of the most powerful tributes that can be paid to servicemen and women who died while fighting for our country.
That’s why there was outrage three years ago when the Department of Veterans Affairs removed a Battlefield Cross from a gravesite at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio. The DVA, which runs the cemetery, had received a complaint the marker included the depiction of a realistic-looking gun.
Its decision was later called “a regrettable misinterpretation of policy” regarding the depiction of weaponry on new monuments. The marker was returned to its original location.
The incident never should have happened, and hopefully legislation proposed Monday by Ohio’s two U.S. Senators will keep it from occurring in the future. Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown introduced “The Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act” which prevents the Department of Veterans Affairs from denying veterans the honor they have earned.
Representative Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives and the state’s full congressional delegation is backing it.
Portman pointed out the battlefield cross “stands as a constant reminder of the cost of our freedom.”
About 1.1 million Americans have died in all the wars combined. That includes:
• 407,116 in World War II
• 90,220 in Vietnam.
• 4,424 in Iraq.
• 2,372 and counting in Afghanistan.
Take a moment this weekend and think about those numbers. In many cases, one of the fallen soldiers may have been a family member or a neighbor. We can worship in the church of our choice, question our government and spend our money how and when we like because those service members died fighting for our freedoms.
It is shameful that a government bureaucracy almost kept some Ohio families of fallen soldiers from honoring their loved ones with the powerful symbol of the Battlefield Cross. Senators Portman and Brown are correct in the legislation they propose. As Brown stated, “We need to ensure that this tribute can continue at all national veterans’ cemeteries.”