Monday, July 4, 2011

Rally for Religious Freedom at the Houston VA Cemetery - July 4th, 2011

Depending on your point of view - Vets temporarily put either a CROSS or CROSSHAIRS on the  VA seal.
Arlene Ocasio became the Houston VA Cemetery Director approximately a year ago.  Since her arrival, she stripped out the pews in the chapel and turned it into a conference room, as well as prohibiting it's use completely - during the hottest time of the year for services.  She also informed all clergy and funeral professionals that using the word "God," "Jesus," or any religious reference would be verboten (to the best of my knowledge she didn't actually use Nazi-like language).

One funeral director we met an hour and a half before the rally, described intimidation by the VA staff and emotional distress by many families who grappled with having to choose alternative burial sites.  Apparently a cemetery staff member was assigned to every group coming to the site to monitor and intimidate them..

This funeral director informed us that many pastors and funeral directors had been incensed at the actions of Ms. Ocasio and had pledged to show up in force.  And in force they did.  Veterans groups, elected officials and even the Freedom Riders turned out to what we estimated to be at least 1,000 to 2,000 people.

One entry way to interior park and Rally location
The group NASH3 began warming up the crowd around 9:30 am with various patriotic and religious songs.A sample here:

Very touching as kids to WW2 vets all singing together.

The organizers made it clear the reason were there was NOT to usurp the legal process - but to stand with the plantiff's in the lawsuit unable to speak at the Rally.  TWO speakers reiterated that we PRAY we did not need to defend our rights by force and cited the section of the Declaration reiterating the necessity, "it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." Great crowd responses both times.

Perhaps the most moving portion of the rally was when a gold star mom and her daughter took the microphone.  About 11 months to the week, this mom's son was laid to rest at the Houston VA Cemetery.  She explained in what seemed to be a South African accent how one of the reasons they moved to the United States was because her son, Shane, had a lifelong desire to be a United States Marine.  And not any Marine - a UNITED STATES Marine.

After returning from enlistment, he proposed to his fiance' and made sure they were married on July 4th to show his love and devotion for his new life to his country.  He went off to Iraq where he promptly studied to be come an American citizen - a life long dream.

Sadly, 1 week after accomplishing his life goal - he died for the very country he longed to serve.

The applause continued for nearly 5 minutes as the wife and mother received honor from the crowd and the organizer stated what everyone there was thinking, that she and her family yielded ground to no one in her right to be called an American for sacrifice they endured for this country.

The group NASH3 ended the Rally with this song they wrote which was boycotted by many radio stations but recorded later by Diamond Rio.  Truly one of the best patriotic songs of the past 20 years or so: IN GOD WE STILL TRUST:

I truly can say that I have never had a more meaningful July 4th in my life.  Not only am I proud of my country and those who hold her dear - but I am further incited to defend her with what our founders - and the crowd this day - pledged in unison:

Our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Special thanks to Alan and Colleen Vera, The Jersey Texan and Melissa Tweets


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