By: First Liberty Institute – firstliberty.org – March 6, 2019
First Liberty Institute today sent a letter to Manchester (NH) VA Medical Center (“MVAMC”) officials affirming their decision to display a Bible donated by a WWII veteran. The letter was sent by First Liberty on behalf of its client, the Northeast POW/MIA Network, the veterans service organization that originally included the Bible in its donated POW/MIA Remembrance Table at the MVAMC. Activist groups recently demanded the Bible be removed.
“The VA is absolutely within the law in its decision to allow the display of a donated Bible,” said Michael Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute. “Government officials are right to ignore outside activists and their dubious legal claims. The fact that an outside activist group more than 2000 miles away claims to be offended is not a legitimate reason to dishonor our veterans. If those activists want to desecrate this POW/MIA display, they’re going to have to come through us.”
The Bible, currently displayed at MVAMC, was donated by former U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Herman “Herk” Streitburger, of Bedford, NH, who was held captive in a German Prisoner of War camp during World War II. The POW/MIA Remembrance Table at the MVAMC was donated by the Northeast POW/MIA Network and Rolling Thunder Chapter 1.
Since the Vietnam War, our nation has maintained the sacred tradition of setting a separate table in countless Department of Defense and VA facilities to honor POW/MIAs. The table is decorated with several items, each carrying symbolic meaning used to help remember those who were captured or declared missing. A 2016 Veterans Administration memo states that when a VA facility permits a POW/MIA Remembrance Table, it must “remain neutral regarding the views expressed by the group, to include the use of any religious or secular items in the display.”
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