Monday, March 28, 2005

Veterans Memorial Protection Act

I check referrals to this blog from time to time. The other day I noticed a google referral from the search string "Veterans Memorial Protection Act." I didn't pay any further attention until I saw another one today. So I clicked on it to see where I land on google with that string ... to my shock and awe, first!!!

That is rather silly seeing I only mentioned the Act in a list of acts which Kerry backed. Regardless, if two people on a couple days visit me while researching the Act, I feel a duty to give you something to read. Besides, my dad was a war-time vet, my father-in-law was wounded in war-time, and my best friend's daddy was a POW.

The Veterans Memorial Protection Act was pushed since 1995 by Congresswoman Nita Lowry (D-NY18) (so she says on her website, but nothing shows in the Congressional Record until July 25, 1996, under the name "Veterans Cemetery Protection Act"; use of VMPA doesn't appear until May 1, 1997). Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) was a later supporter, but instrumental in the Senate.

As is common, an incident occurred in 1995 and everyone was amazed to learn that no special penalty awaited the offenders. In this instance, plaques were stolen from a Yonkers memorial that listed the names of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. This crime should be more than simple vandalism, more than petty theft. In the late 1800's, it would have been a hangin' offense. So the Veterans Memorial Protection Act was born. The Veterans Cemetery Protection Act was born out of vandalism at Arlington.

So here's the operative portions of the Veterans Memorial Protection Act:


(a) IN GENERAL.--Chapter 65 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:``§1369. Destruction of veterans' memorials

``(a) Whoever, in a circumstance described in subsection (b), willfully injures or destroys, or attempts to injure or destroy, any structure, plaque, statue, or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

``(b) A circumstance described in this subsection is that--

``(1) in committing the offense described in subsection (a), the defendant travels or causes another to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses the mail or an instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce; or

``(2) the structure, plaque, statue, or other monument described in subsection (a) is located on property owned by, or under the jurisdiction of, the Federal Government.''.

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