Congress will soon take up the “Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011”, an act to make military service to our country no more significant than stamping a passport. Conservatives should oppose it.Under the Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011, it will no longer just be the bereaved families of soldiers killed in action who get the flag properly folded in grateful recognition for their service to the country. No, now it will also be the post office worker who refuses to deliver your mail because you once wrote a letter to the editor in favor of post office privatization (I know people who’ve had this happen).This well meaning legislation, sponsored by Joe Lieberman and Daniel Akaka, takes a notable act of the military and devalues it across the civil service letting a massive amount of civil service employees also qualify to get a folded flag if they have a heart attack on the job, get in a wreck in their postal jeep, etc.The act of folding the flag and giving it to the grieving family should mean something special. And when anyone who works for the federal government can get it, not just soldiers who died in active service protecting the country, it becomes just another trapping of power from the federal government available to all those people in the ever expanding federal bureaucracy.The American Legion has come out opposed to this legislation. John Boehner intends to put it up for a vote as H. R. 2061. You should call 202-224-3121 and tell your Congressman to oppose H.R. 2061. Here is what the Legion says:
Seemingly as the nation attempts remember those thousands killed on September 11th, the House is throwing up a token effort to remember those federal employees killed that day. Maybe, on its face, the House is merely trying to recognize the sacrifice of the nearly 3,000 federal employees who died since 1992. No matter the reasoning, The House has set a consent vote on H.R. 2061 Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011 on the calendar. As amended in the Committee of the Whole, this bill would allow the head of an executive agency to pay for the expenses incident to the presentation of the United State flag for employees of a federal agency. The American Legion’s opposition to this is multifold:
- This bill has not been fully vetted in committee hearings and proceedings to further clarify the intent and limitations of the bill.
- The Committee of the Whole stated, “Presentation of a United States flag is an appropriate way to honor Federal employees’ contributions to the American public. The Committee believes these individuals are no less deserving of our respect than members of our armed forces.” The American Legion and most certainly a multitude of veterans and those currently serving would disagree with this statement.
- It allows for payment of “expenses incident to the presentation of a flag.” Not being further clarified, would this require payment of a formal “honor guard” to present the flag, postage of the flag to the next of kin, or other costs? Those are allowable expenses under the 1993 DoD measure.
- It loosely allows the agency head to provide the flag to the “next of kin” or an individual other than the next of kin if “no request is received from the next of kin.” Would this allow a friend or acquaintance to take advantage of this provision if the family had decided not to?
- We remain deeply concerned that individuals who provide “volunteer services” might also be covered under this without a true understanding of the provisions this inclusion might provide.