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Houston National Cemetery's Declaration of Independence

Yesterday, I had the honor of attending the Religious Freedom Rally at the Houston National Cemetery with my husband Steve. At this event, a coalition of Houston area pastors, representing a variety of ethnic and religious denominations, stood alongside several Texas politicians and local officials to support our veterans, their families, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Tears began swelling in my eyes early as we drove off the Sam Houston toll road onto the feeder road to a complete stop well before the signal light to turn onto Veteran’s Memorial Boulevard. I felt great pride in knowing so many of my fellow Texans felt as we did and were able to attend this event. We arrived with plenty of time, but with the turn out of what I’d say was close to 1,000 people, we ended up having to park at the far end of the cemetery and were a teeny bit late to hearing the first couple speakers. But the hundred-degree heat was going to stop us. We all heard the call and we came. As we walked up to the event, I heard “pardon the noise, but this is the sound of freedom.” Cheers roared throughout the crowd. How sweet it is.

Make a note Texans: All politicians representing the Houston area were invited to this event. Some attended, many did not. I’d like to thank those who I heard speak: Dave Welch, Executive Director, US Pastor Council, Paul Bettencourt, Pastor Willie Davis, Congressman Pete Olson, State Representative Debbie Riddle, Pastor Scot Wall, Gold Star Mom Debora Wallace, my State Representative Allen Fletcher, Jay Guerrero speaking on behalf of Senator John Cornyn, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, Pastor Steve Riggle and Congressman Ted Poe. I will remember these names.

To recap, the Houston National Cemetery Director, Arleen Ocasio, requires grieving families to not use the words “God” or “Jesus” at any personal funeral ceremony without her written approval. I wrote about this censorship and travesty in a post last week. Ms. Ocasio has stated that she was only trying to make prayers more inclusive of other religions. Hmm. If she truly is trying to make prayers more inclusive of other religions, why has she:

  1. … instructed Veterans of Foreign Wars District 4 to remove prayers from its burial rituals and to no longer utter remarks when handing the discharged shell cases from the rifle salute to the family of deceased veterans?
  2. … instructed American Legion Post 586 to remove prayers from its burial rituals?
  3. … told the National Memorial Ladies that they could no longer include “God Bless” in their condolence cards or speak religious messages to veterans’ families?
  4. … shut down the Cemetery chapel and use it now for only a storage and meeting facility?

Ms. Ocasio is not being inclusive of other religions, she is against freedom of religion and against freedom of speech. Her tyranny in treating our veterans and their families as “customers” must no longer be tolerated. Read more about the current lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs and Ms. Arleen Ocasio here.

All who spoke were emotional as were those watching and listening. I know I was not alone in my tears. We must all speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. That means you too. We must stand together and do all we can to help ensure our freedoms remain as they have for the past 235 years. Write your Congressman. Call them. Same goes for our local officials. Let your voice be heard. The days of “it’s none of my business” must end or our country will no longer be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In all the emotion, I saw some great t-shirts and handmade signs that made me smile:

  • “Enjoy Freedom of Speech? Thank a Vet!”
  • God Bless Our Troops and their Families
  • 1st Amendment: Freedom OF religion, not freedom from religion!
  • One Nation Under God.
  • My Marine Has Your Back.

We praised John Cornyn’s words that our Founding Fathers rightly placed language in our Constitution that “precludes the federal government from establishing an official religion, but this same language also prohibits the government from limiting an individual their rights to the free exercise of religion according to his or her conscience.” Exactly.

We sang “God Bless America” together. This song always gives me goosebumps, tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.

Our veterans and their families give the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms we do today. They deserve better treatment than what they’ve received the past many months here at the Houston National Cemetery. The censorship of speech and religious freedom must end now. If this can happen in Texas, it can happen anywhere across our great nation. Not. On. Our. Watch!

Houston wants a new Director. Immediately. We demand it. Political correctness is out of hand in our country. Today is Independence Day and here in Houston, Texas, just as what began 235 years ago, we stand with our veterans, their families and friends in declaring our freedom from tyranny again. Join us by contacting your Congressman, the Veteran’s Administration in Washington, DC (#202-373-5400) and demand a new Director for the Houston National Cemetery.

You can also help our military and their families here:

If you stand with us, please sign Liberty Institute’s Petition to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs demanding they end these abuses immediately. Thank you in advance for your support of our veterans, their families and freedom.

God Bless Texas! God Bless our military. And God Bless America!


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