On Memorial Day, a holiday meant to mourn those in the U.S. military who have died while serving their country, a group of lawmakers took the opportunity to call out what they see as a stain on two veterans cemeteries in Texas and Utah.
At two graves in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio and one grave in Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in Salt Lake City lie German prisoners of war from WWII. These graves, which have existed for decades, are marked with Nazi symbols, and in recent weeks the calls have grown louder to have them removed.
“Allowing these gravestones with symbols and messages of hatred, racism, intolerance, and genocide is especially offensive to all the veterans who risked, and often lost, their lives defending this country and our way of life,” wrote the group of House Representatives in a letter Veteran Affairs secretary Robert Wilkie on Monday.
All three graves feature swastikas, while in Texas the headstones also include a reference to Hitler. “He died far from his home for the Führer, people and fatherland,” they read.
“It is a stain on the hallowed ground where so many veterans and their families are laid to rest,” the lawmakers added in their letter. “Families who visit their loved ones, who are buried in the same cemeteries with the Nazi soldiers whom they fought against, should never have to confront symbols of hatred that are antithetical to our American values.”
Earlier this month, in response to the controversy, the Department of Veterans Affairs put out a statement saying that they are aware of the headstones but are required by law to preserve them, as they are considered to be historic artifacts.
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