U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) put his first bill in the hopper today, taking a stand for veterans and soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
"These soldiers gave everything for our nation and there will never be enough we can do or say to thank them in return," said Rep. Gonzalez. "My predecessor, Jim Renacci, understood how important these memorials were to our local community, which is why he introduced a similar bill last Congress. I am proud to take up the mantle on this issue and introduce the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act as my first bill as the representative for Ohio's 16th District."
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 Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act was cosponsored by every member of the Ohio delegation upon introduction, a point of pride for Ohio's veteran and military community.
"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," said Michael Kuhn, a combat veteran from Massillon, Ohio. "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."
"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," said Cindy Manse, a gold star mother from North Canton.
"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," said Gold Star Mother Pam Murray of Atwater. "Our heroes earned this, allow them to have it."
"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," said Tim Zvoncheck of Strongsville VFW Post 3345.