Representatives with delegate status in the House are bucking for representation of the District of Columbia and U.S. territories at military functions where all 50 states’ flags are displayed.
Democratic Dels. Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C., Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Madeleine Bordallo of Guam want the conference committee to include the provision in the final defense authorization bill.
“We come this morning this time not to ask for equal rights but for equal respect,” Norton said at a press conference this morning. “To refuse to raise the home flag of men and women willing to sacrifice their lives for their country is an intentional sign of personal disrespect to them and to their families. It is a sign of collective disrespect to all Americans in their home jurisdictions.”
The delegate spoke Friday with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who assured her that he supported the provision and would work for its inclusion in the final bill.
D.C. veterans also met last week with staff members of Levin as well as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) to lobby for their support.
“Never again must any soldier’s welcome ceremony be ruined for him and his family when his home flag is singled out for no show of honor like the others,” Norton said. “…Never again must a family be dismayed when attending a son’s military graduation ceremony.”
“The District of Columbia and the territories each have a somewhat different status under the American flag. But, we fight in all the wars of our country. We are a part of the American family, not illegitimate offspring, whose flags can be recognized only at the discretion of commanders, according to the official Memorandum signed by Undersecretary of Defense Erin Conaton,” she continued. “The failure to raise the D.C. flag and the flags of my colleagues is nothing less than a failure to recognize our identity as American citizens. In this country, we raise the flags of foreign nations to show we respect them. As American citizens, we ask for, and we expect, no less.”