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Gonzalez Battlefield Cross bill passes VA Committee

H.R. 1424, the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs this week with unanimous support. The bill, which marked the first bill introduced by Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River), codifies protections for battlefield cross memorials in national cemeteries and is strongly supported by the Northeast Ohio veteran community.


CONGRESSMAN GONZALEZ: “One of the greatest champions for this cause was Elton Boyer, President of the 555th Honors Detachment in my district. He passed away [last] weekend, but it was Elton’s mission to erect a Battlefield Cross at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Seville, Ohio using the spent brass from military funerals. My bill protects his work, clarifying that no administrative policy change can allow the removal of this memorial.”

H.R. 1424, the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act, bars the Department of Veterans Affairs from removing battlefield cross memorials from our national cemeteries, ensuring these monuments remain standing as tributes to our fallen soldiers. Battlefield crosses, depicted as a soldier’s boots, helmet, dog tag and inverted rifle, have stood in cemeteries across the nation since at least the Civil War to honor and remember the soldiers who fell fighting on the battlefront. The bill, previously introduced by Former Congressman Jim Renacci last congress, was cosponsored by every member of the Ohio delegation upon introduction, a point of pride for Ohio’s veteran and military community.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:

Tim Zvoncheck of Strongsville VFW Post 3345: “Some say the battlefield cross dates back as far as the American Revolution. Others might say it was born on the battlefields of the 20th Century. Regardless of how long this makeshift memorial has been used to honor our fallen, it’s imperative that this custom continues to be displayed for as long as the sons and daughters of this nation are willing to give their lives in its defense.”

Combat Veteran Michael Kuhn from Massillon: “The battlefield cross encapsulates so many of the most important things to a combat vet: his rifle, his boots, his tags and, most of all, his fallen comrade. It’s extremely important for us to have those things wrapped up in one memorial for us to kneel to, grieve with, and talk to our brothers in arms that have died the ultimate death in laying down their life for us and their country. As a combat vet, you relate to very little outside of that world and always feel like an outsider. Whenever you see that combat cross it brings a somber, quiet feeling of peace for that moment that you have that direct line to your fallen brothers.”

Gold Star Mother Cindy Manse from North Canton: “The battlefield cross is recognized as a symbol for those who have lost their lives and provides validation to all their families. It is a recognized symbol of loss and its removal cannot be permitted.”

Gold Star Mother Pam Murray from Atwater: “I feel it is extremely important to pass laws that allow the battlefield cross to be displayed. The fact that our heroes, who lost their brothers and sisters in the same battlefields that they are all fighting in, erect this symbol – boots, gun and helmet with dog tags – as a memorial makes this as much if not more powerful than any tombstone. Our heroes earned this, allow them to have it.”

 

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