Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH) testified at a legislative hearing before the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs about H.R. 4312, the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act.
Last fall, the National Cemetery Administration chose to remove Battlefield Crosses from the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, Fort Custer National Cemetery, Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, and Great Lakes National Cemetery. My office quickly became involved reaching out to the National Cemetery Administration for their reasoning
In the 16th District and other places across the U.S., these Battlefield Crosses have been removed from cemeteries because of an interpretation in VA policy. Additionally, due to the policy the Battlefield Cross Memorial will no longer be allowed to be placed in our nation’s cemeteries.
The importance of the Battlefield Cross cannot be understated. It is a solemn reminder of fallen brethren. It is also a sign of comfort as the Soldier remains to be honored, spoken with and prayed for. When a veteran enters the National Cemetery, they are visiting their brethren. There is no greater symbol for a lost service member than the Battlefield Cross.
“When this inconceivable policy came to my attention, I took action to ensure that these Battlefield Crosses honoring our fallen soldiers were returned to their proper place,” said Renacci. “In light of these events, I have introduced the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act, which would prevent the National Cemetery Administration from denying our heroes the honor they have earned and allow us to honor them today and in the future with the Battlefield Cross.”
Veterans in the District and across the nation are upset with the VA’s ruling and are pushing to have memorials restored and permitted to be built.
“To some, it’s just a rifle, a helmet, and a pair of boots. To those who served, it represents honor, respect, and sacrifice. There is no greater sacrifice than to give one’s life for the cause of a greater good, and there is no greater honor than to be respected and remembered by those who served. The battlefield cross is a comrades way of saying ‘Thank you and we will never forget!’” said Tim Zvoncheck, Commander, Strongsville VFW Post 3345.
“I received the initial call from Elton Boyer, 555th Honors’ Detachment, that the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery had removed the Battlefield Cross,” said Bryan Bowman, Renacci Veterans Liaison. I immediately reached out to the cemetery and drove there to speak with them. We learned the guidance came from the National Cemetery Administration. This immediately led to an inquiry as to why the Battlefield Cross was removed. It’s unconscionable that the symbol of loss on the battlefield would be prohibited in a national cemetery.”
Renacci looks forward to the bill moving out of committee, and onto the House floor for a vote this fall.