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August 04, 2005

Bartering medals cheapens the honors

The Issue: The Stolen Valor Act would prohibit the possession of medals such as the Purple Heart by anyone who didn’t earn them.

Our Opinion: Bartering and wearing unearned medals cheapens the gallantry for which they were awarded.

Infuriated by a Hollywood-based Web site that encouraged people to print and wear fake Purple Heart medals when attending the movie “Wedding Crashers,” a Colorado congressman introduced a bill that would prohibit people from wearing some military honors they did not earn.

“Shame on those who claim credit for acts of courage they did not commit,” said Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat. “Their lies are criminal.”

In the movie, the characters played by actors Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn pretend to be Purple Heart recipients in an effort to woo bridesmaids. The Web site — run by New Line Cinema, the distributor of the film — ad-vised, “Carrying a Purple Heart in your jacket guarantees you attention, admiration and plenty of free booze.

“To get one of these babies, some dudes have to prove their physical, mental and spiritual strength with great feats of bravery on the battlefield. All you need to do is press the button below.”

That upset many veterans, who demanded the material be removed from the Web site, and rightfully so. It also brought into focus the trade in authentic military decorations and led to Salazar’s legislation.

A recent check by The Associated Press showed several people using eBay to hawk Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, Navy Crosses and Distinguished Service Crosses, for anywhere from $11.95 to $39.95, plus shipping.

One dealer in military medals said most of his custom-ers are veterans or the families of veterans attempting to replace honors that were lost or stolen. But there is an official means to do that through the military.

As a result, Salazar wants to put a halt to the bartering of some of the military’s top honors.

It already is illegal to manufacture, buy, sell or trade a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military tribute. It is even illegal for someone who didn’t earn the Medal of Honor to wear it.

Salazar’s Stolen Valor Act, would expand the law to in-clude more medals and would allow prosecution of anyone who falsely claims to have earned a military medal or a Purple Heart.

The measure should pass unanimously. There is no reason for anyone to be dealing in such items. After all, we’re not talking about a Good Conduct Ribbon or a unit citation. We’re talking about honors that have been bestowed on men and women who have performed truly heroic acts while putting their lives on the line for their country.

The very least we can do is to make it illegal for wannabe heroes to claim honors they did not earn or deserve. We also can make it illegal for people to profit from the sale of these decorations.

Indeed, we cannot help but wonder what would prompt someone from trying to claim military honors he did not earn.

In fact, Salazar’s proposed Stolen Valor Act should take another step: Anyone wearing military honors he did not earn should be required to spend some time at a military hospital dealing with the men and women who are the rightful recipients of Purple Hearts and other medals.

Let the imposters explain their actions to someone who has lost a limb while serving in the military. They soon should understand that these medals are much more than trinkets to be bought and sold.

They are symbols that a grateful nation bestows on the men and women who have answered a call to risk life and limb on behalf of their country. Protecting these honors is the least we can do for those who earned them.

Posted by readingeagle at August 4, 2005 01:00 AM

 

 

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James Fields (Left) regaled the audience in Chillicothe, MO, on veterans day with tales of his heroism that earned him a Navy Cross for heroism in Vietnam while serving under Lt. Col. Oliver North. The same day in St. Louis, Michael Wielbacher showed up for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball wearing the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Medal, along with a two Silver Stars with "V", four Bronze, and more. Both were bogus heroes. Wielbacher is prosecutable but Fields is NOT (he was wearing a Navy Cross PIN, not the Medal. Both are exposed in this excellent report from the St. Louis Fox Affiliate.

Watch the Video Report of these "American Heroes"

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Note: While journalists do not endorse legislation in order to maintain impartiality, we are pleased to share with you the following congratulatory remarks by a leader in American news broadcasting: 

"I congratulate Congressman Salazar for getting on this case and I am with him all the way." 
Bob Schieffer, CBS Evening News 

Stolen Valor Act of 2005
H.R. 3352 & S. 1998

.

News

Read/Download the Policy Analysis Paper that is the basis for this legislation.

Policy Analysis
Webpage

Policy Analysis
WORD Doc.

Policy Analysis
WORD PDF

Contact Congressman Salazar

John T. Salazar (CO-3) SPONSOR
111 Members of Congress Co-Sponsoring This Bill in the House
(Sorted By State & District)

(AL-5) Robert Bud Cramer 
(AR-1) Marion Berry  
(AR-4) Mike Ross 
(AZ-7) Raul Grijalva  
(CA-1) Mike Thompson 
(CA-8) Nancy Pelosi
(CA-15 Mike Honda 
(CA-18) Dennis Cardoza 
(CA-20) Jim Costa 
(CA-29) Adam Schiff 
(CA-33) Diane Watson 
(CA-38) Grace Napolitano 
(CA-43) Joe Baca 
(CA-51) Bob Filner 
(CO-2) Mark Udall 
(
FL-2) Allen Boyd  
(FL-17) Kendrick Meek 
(FL-23) Alcee Hastings  
(GA-3) Jim Marshall  
(GA-12) John Barrow  
(GU)  Madeleine Bordallo
((HI-2) Ed Case  
(IA-3) Leonard Boswell 
(IL-4) Luis Gurierrez  
(IL-5) Rahm Emanuel 
(IN-7) Julia Carson  
(KS-3) Dennis Moore  
.(KY-6) Ben Chandler  
(LA-3) Charlie Melancon
(MD-4) Albert Wynn
(MD-5) Steny Hoyer  
(ME-1) Thomas Allen 
(ME-2) Michael Michaud
(MI-5) Dale Kildee
(MI-14) John Conyers
(MN-7) Colin Peterson  
(MS-4) Gene Taylor  
(NC-7) Mike McIntyre  
(ND) Earl Pomeroy  
(NJ-9) Steven Rothman
(
NJ-13) Robert Mendez (NM-3) Tom Udall  
(NV-1) Shelly Berkley
(NY-2) Steve Israel  
(NY-4) Carolyn McCarthy 
(NY-12 )Nydia Velazquez  
(NY-16) Jose Serrano  
(NY-22) Maurice Hinchey
(OH-6) Ted Strickland  
(OH-13) Sherrod Brown  
(OH-17) Tim Ryan  
(OK-2) Dan Boren  
(OR-5) Darlene Hooley  
(PA-17) Tim Holden  
(SD) Stephanie Herseth  
(TN-4) Lincoln Davis  
(TN-5) Jim Cooper  
(TN-6) Bart Gordon 
(TN-8) John Tanner  
(TN-9) Harold Ford  
(TX-15) Ruben Hinojosa  
(TX-16) Silvestre Reyes  
(TX-20) Charles Gonzalez
 (TX-25) Lloyd Doggett  
(TX-27) Solomon Ortiz  
(TX-28) Henry Cuellar  
(TX-29) Gene Green  
(TX-30) Eddie B. Johnson
(UT-3) Jim Matheson  
(WA-3) Brian Baird  
(WA-7) Jim McDermott
(WA-9) Adam Smith  
(WV-3) Nick Rahall  
.
NOTE: ALL SIX Representatives from Kentucky, including members of BOTH parties, have signed on as co-sponsors for this bill. Way to go KENTUCKY.


(AL-6) Spencer Bachus
(AZ-1) Rick Renzi
(CA-41) Jerry Lewis
(CA-44) Ken Calvert
(CO-4) Marilyn Musgrave
(CO-6) Tom Tancredo  
CO-7) Bob Beauprez
(CT-2) Rob Simmons
(IL-16) Donald Manzullo
(IN-4) Steve Buyer
(IN-5) Dan Burton
(IN-8) John Hostettler
(KY-1) Ed Whitfield 
(KY-2) Ron Lewis  
(KY3) Anne Northup  
(KY-4) Geoff Davis  
(KY-5) Harold Rogers  
(LA-5) Rodney Alexander
(MI-8) Mike Rogers
(MI-11) Thaddeus McCotter
(MN-2) John Kline  
(MO-6) Sam Graves
(NC-8) Robin Hayes
(NE-1) Jeff Fortenberry
(NE-2) Lee Terry
(NJ-4) Christopher Smith
(NJ-5) Scott Garrett
(NJ-7) Mike Ferguson
(NY-13) Vito Fossella
NY-19) Sue Kelly
(NY-24) Sherwood Boehlert
(NY-29) John Randy Kuhl  
(PA-3) Phil English  
(TN-3) Zach Wamp
(TX-2) Ted Poe 
(TX-23) Henry Bonilla
(VA-10) Frank Wolf
(WI-8) Mark Green

Kent Conrad (ND) - Sponsor
26 SENATE Co-SPONSORS
S 1998 SENATE VERSION of Stolen Valor:
PASSED SENATE September 7

(AR) Mark Pryor
(AR) Blanche Lincoln
(CO) Ken Salazar 
(CT) Joseph Lieberman
(HI) Daniel Inouye
(NE) Benjamin Nelson  
(NJ) Frank Lautenberg  
(NM) Jeff Bingaman 
(NY) Hillary Clinton
(SD) Tim Johnson  
(WV) John Rockefeller  
(WV) Robert Byrd 

(AK) Ted Stevens
CO) Wayne Allard  
(GA) Johnny Isakson  
(GA) Saxby Chambliss 
(KS) Pat Roberts
(LA) David Vitter  
(MT) Conrad Burns  
(NC) Elizabeth Dole  
(NE) Chuck Hagel
(PA) Arlen Specter
(PA) Rick Santorum  
(SD) John Thune
(WY) Thomas Craig
(WY) Michael Enzi

ENDORSEMENTS

Other Medal of Honor and/or Veteran Related Legislation

H. Res. 297
National Medal of Honor Day

NEW G.I.
Bill of Rights

H. RES. 404
Honoring
Adm. Jim Stockdale

Doug or Pam Sterner may be contacted at: (703) 461-3626 or by Email:  Pam Sterner  -  Doug Sterner

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