Nazi headstones will be removed from US veterans cemeteries, VA leaders say - Lebanon news - أخبار لبنان

Nazi headstones will be removed from US veterans cemeteries, VA leaders say

Veterans Affairs officials announced Monday they will remove a series of of grave markers bearing Nazi swastikas and tributes to Adolf Hitler from department cemeteries after lawmakers and veterans advocates complained the markers were offensive and disrespectful. The move represents a turnaround from last week, when VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said he was looking for ways to put the problematic grave markers “in historical context” rather than remove them from the cemeteries. But critics said any result that left the controversial symbols alongside the graves of American war heroes was insufficient. After about two weeks of controversy, VA officials relented. “It is understandably upsetting to our veterans and their families to see Nazi inscriptions near those who gave their lives for this nation,” Wilkie said in a statement Monday. “That’s why VA will initiate the process required to replace these POW headstones.” At issue are three grave sites at two VA cemeteries: Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in Texas and Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in Utah. Both were used to inter dozens of unclaimed remains of enemy troops following World War II. The sites were administered by the Army for decades until responsibilities were transferred to VA’s National Cemetery Administration. While most of the foreign troops’ grave markers list only names and dates of death, the three in question— which all date back to the 1940s — are also engraved with a swastika in the center of an iron cross and inscription in German which reads “He died far from his home for the Führer, people and fatherland.” Sign up for the Retirement Report Each week, get insights on military retirement benefits and issues (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. Earlier this month, following complaints from local veterans about the offensive messages, leaders from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation demanded VA remove the grave markers, saying their presence alongside American veterans was unforgivable. But VA leaders have said that the sites are governed by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which “assigns stewardship responsibilities to federal agencies, including VA and Army, to protect historic resources, including those that recognize divisive historical figures or events.” Last week, in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Wilkie said the law prohibited him from simply removing the stones, but he also argued that doing so would amount to ignoring history. “I happen to think that making sure when people visit our cemeteries they are informed of that horror is an important thing to do … erasing these headstones removes them from memory,” he said. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and a vocal critic of Wilkie’s initial decision, accused VA leadership of “hiding behind” the law instead of taking proper action. VA officials on Monday did not give a date for removal of the grave stones, saying that under the NHPA that “ VA is not permitted to unilaterally remove them or alter them.” Department leaders did promise that later this month staff will “will begin taking required steps … about how to replace these headstones with historically accurate markers that do not include the Nazi swastika and German text.” Officials do not plan to dispose of the headstones, but instead store them in the National Cemetery Administration History Collection. VA will also install signs at all VA national cemeteries where foreign enemy prisoners of war are buried “in order to provide historical context about how non-U.S. service members from World War I and World War II were interred and buried on American soil.” Wilkie said that despite the change, “Americans must always remember the horror of the Nazi regime and why so many Americans sacrificed so much to free the world from its reign of terror.”

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