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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Public outcry brings resolutions involving flag-folding ceremony, monument cap

Allie Martin
October 31, 2007

Officials with the Veterans Administration (VA) have clarified a directive limiting the use of a religious recitation at flag-folding ceremonies during military funerals. And a replica of the cap on the Washington Monument will be rebuilt so a God-honoring phrase is visible. The founder of the American Family Association (AFA) credits public outcry in both cases.

Last month, a senior VA official told directors of the agency's 125 cemeteries not to distribute or post non-government handouts on "The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag." The memo also said the handout should not be recited at graveside services by cemetery workers or by VA-sponsored volunteer honor guards. The recitations include references to "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" and to "the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

Public outcry was swift, with more than 200,000 emails sent to the VA. Now a VA spokesperson says volunteer honor guards may recite any text requested by next of kin.

AFA founder Don Wildmon says prompt public outcry made the difference. "The censoring of Christianity, making Christianity officially hostile to the federal government, has been seen," argues Wildmon, "and the Christian community and fair-minded people in our society are not going to allow this to happen anymore."

He cites another recent example of the influence of public outcry, noting that the National Park Service (NPS) has said it will rebuild a replica of the cap on the Washington Monument so that the Latin phrase "Laus Deo" -- meaning "Praise be to God" -- is not hidden from public view. The current display was moved in recent years so the phrase was facing a wall and not visible to the public.

A spokesman with the Park Service says the placement of the replica was not intentional, and that it will be moved to another location in the center of a room where all inscriptions will be easily viewed. The 100-ounce aluminum cap at the top of the monument has engravings on all four sides.

Wildmon says the NPS responded to the public, resulting in what he considers a great victory. "There was an outcry," he explains. "Over a hundred-thousand people contacted the National Park Service, and they rescinded that, [saying they were] going to put it back just like it was" so people can read it.

The pro-family leader believes many citizens are getting tired of efforts to eradicate references to God from the public square -- and that frustration, he says, is demonstrated by their willingness to get involved and express their displeasure when those efforts are brought to light.

Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.