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A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to rewrite the official motto of the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it gender neutral.
“It is long overdue for the Department of Veterans Affairs to update its mission statement to reflect all Americans who have fought for our nation,” Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) said in a statement. “Women and LGBTQ military service members and veterans have sacrificed their lives to keep the rest of us safe, and they deserve to have this service properly recognized by the agency that serves them.”
The current motto was adopted in 1959, and the words have since been emblazoned at the entrance to VA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
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The current motto reads, “to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.
Lawmakers want to revise the motto to read: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
Best-selling author and radio host Todd Starnes condemned the bipartisan effort as another example of what he called a radical culture jihad.
“This is nothing more than politically correct wokeness,” Starnes said. “And it’s no surprise to see a bunch of Republicans in name only playing into the hands of Democrats who want to use our veterans to score cheap political points.”
Among those sponsoring the legislation are Republican lawmakers Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“Brave men and women continue stepping up by answering the call to serve, and the VA motto should clearly reflect that,” said Rep. Stivers. “I am proud to join my colleagues in this effort to let America’s veterans know that we recognize and support every one of them. To all my fellow veterans, please know that the sacrifices you are making to keep our neighbors safe are not, and never will, go unnoticed.”
The Trump Administration was staunchly opposed to adding gender neutral language, noting in a press release that “the words that brought us here should not be diluted, parsed or canceled.”
Former VA Secretary Wilkie told Military.com last fall that the “only time [he heard] anything about this motto is from activists” in Washington, D.C.
Wilkie emphasized his opposition to changing the motto when he went to Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois, in August 2020 to dedicate a plaque bearing the current phrase at a VA cemetery
“The words that brought us here ought to be preserved as they were spoken and displayed so every generation understands the origin of America’s progress in becoming the most tolerant nation on earth,” he said.
I introduced a bill to update the VA motto to be inclusive of women & LGBTQ veterans.— Kathleen Rice (@RepKathleenRice) April 23, 2021
Thank you @RepSteveStivers, @gillibrandny, @lisamurkowski & @iava for joining me in this effort to ensure ALL veterans receive the recognition they deserve from the VA.https://t.co/mL7EACKKj1