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Kennedy, Colleagues Urge Congress to Focus on Real Priorities Facing Troops and Veterans

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Kennedy, Colleagues Urge Congress to Focus on Real Priorities Facing Troops and Veterans

Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy joined Senators Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold and veterans to urge Congress to focus on the real priorities facing our troops and veterans instead of divisive wedge issues such as flag burning. As election season draws near, a proposal to amend the Constitution to ban flag ‘desecration' is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Republican leadership has announced plans to bring the amendment to the Senate floor for debate later this month.

"I am proud to stand here today with our nation's veterans. They have fought for our country and have made it stronger. They know the flag of the United States of America flies highest when we honor its ideals. They know that we honor our flag, and those who have fought for it, by ensuring that the freedoms it represents are as strong as ever," Senator Kennedy said, "there are pressing issues that deserve the Senate's attention—the war in Iraq, soaring health care costs, out of control gas prices, and the upcoming hurricane season—these are all issues we need to act on to protect the American people. Now is no time to start undermining their rights and freedoms."

The Senators joined a group of American veterans who fought in wars past and present to defend the Bill of Rights against this partisan tactic and instead, urge Republican leaders to use what little time is left in this congressional session to address the real priorities of veterans and soldiers such as affordable health care, adequate funding to give our troops the safety equipment they need on the front lines, and ensuring that the government keeps our military personnel's private information secure while they are risking their lives serving this country.

Participants in today's press conference included:

Gary May, Chairman of Veterans Defending the Bill of Rights — Joined U.S. Marine Corps in 1967 and served in Vietnam until he sustained bilateral above the knee amputations as a result of a landmine explosion. May was awarded the Bronze Star, with combat "V", Purple Heart, with star, Vietnam Campaign, Vietnam Service, and National Defense medals.

James Warner, Former Domestic Policy Advisor to President Reagan— Flew more than 100 missions in Vietnam; spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war. Warner was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Combat, three Bronze Stars with Combat, two Purple Hearts, eleven Air Medals, including two single mission Air Medals, and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat.

Mr. Keith Kreul, Past National Commander of the American Legion— Served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953 and in the Army reserves from 1953 to 1962.

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