As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s independence, we reflect on the bedrock principles that shaped the creation of this country. The First Amendment is first in the Constitution because it is the most important. It protects free speech and the free exercise of religion. Our Forefathers founded this nation on the belief that our rights are endowed by our creator, not by the government. The Declaration of Independence signed on July 4th, 1776 was an indictment of King George III by the people for his failure to recognize these rights. These inalienable rights are what set our nation apart from other countries where people cannot speak out or openly practice their religion.
The director of the Houston National Cemetery is accused of attacking the constitutional rights of our military who have fought and died for our country. The thought that someone would have the audacity to censor religion and speech anywhere in this country is despicable. Censoring the funeral services of the veterans who spent their lives protecting the first amendment is particularly malicious and simply unforgiveable. That is why, earlier this week, I sent a letter to the Secretary of Veteran Affairs calling on him to launch an investigation.
Americans are irate about this government attack on religion. I have heard from veterans and their loved ones all over the country who are shocked that this government official has chosen to attack the constitutional rights of American veterans and their families. One man in particular stood out to me who called my office in tears because his father (a World War II veteran) was days away from death, set to be buried in Houston National Cemetery. His father does not want to be buried there anymore because he will not be able to have the funeral service that he wants and deserves.
The First Amendment is sacred; funerals are sacred, and when our veterans are buried, that soil becomes sacred. If these allegations are true, the Director of the Houston National Cemetery should be terminated. The Houston National Cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of veterans who fought in places all over the world. The government’s attack on the very freedoms that they lived and died for is a blatant violation of the First Amendment freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. We should show them the respect they deserve by allowing them the same freedoms at their funerals and memorial services.
As we gather with our families this weekend to celebrate America’s independence, let us all take a moment to show those who have served and are currently serving the respect they deserve. After all, they have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we all enjoy today.
Happy Independence Day to you and your family. God bless America!
God and Texas,
Member of Congress