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Veterans Affairs to Take Steps to Remove Hate Symbols from National Cemeteries

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — On May 14, 2020, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) joined the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and other civil liberties groups to call for the removal of headstones bearing swastikas on the graves of Nazi soldiers buried in national veterans cemeteries in Texas and Utah. Yesterday evening, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs announced that it would begin the process of replacing the three headstones that bare Nazi symbols and text.

The following statement is from SPLC Senior Fellow Eric Ward:

“The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announcement that it will remove symbols of hate from three headstones in Texas and Utah is a key milestone that grapples with one of the darkest parts of our collective history.

“While it’s encouraging to see that the VA will propose a plan to place headstones with these symbols of hate in their proper historical context, it is also important to understand that their presence reinforced a culture and political movement motivated by hate.

“This is another chance for the VA to emphasize its stance against bigotry. Active service members, veterans who fought to protect the U.S. and their families should not be subjected to offensive imagery and wording that represents antisemitism and intolerance. 

“We applaud the bipartisan leadership of House Committee on Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey and Ranking Member Kay Grainger, and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ranking Member John Carter for pushing back against the neutral stance of the VA and reminding them that it is ‘never too late to do the right thing.’”