Thursday, May 29, 2008

Army Takes Down Crosses at Kosovo Chapel: Sentiment, Regulations, and Common Sense

Somebody set up three crosses and a commemorative sign outside a U.S. Army chapel in Kosovo. We don't know who, but the crosses and the sign have to go. And, oddly, I think there's a good reason for it.

And it's not because the Army Chaplain honored, Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Oglesby, was Baptist and I'm Catholic. Actually, I think that memorial was a touching tribute to someone who sounds like a very dedicated man.

I also think that the U.S. Army is right to take them down. This time, regulations make sense.

Here's how the article starts:

"Army to Remove Memorial Sign and Crosses From Chapel in Kosovo Camp"
FOXNews (May 29, 2008)
  • "Army officials say they are only following regulations, but their plans to remove a memorial to a U.S. chaplain at a camp in Kosovo have shocked and saddened his widow.
  • "Elizabeth Oglesby said she was "a little bit sad" when told her a sign honoring her late husband, Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gordon Oglesby, would be removed from the North Chapel at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.
  • "The sign, as well as three crosses, are being removed to put the chapel in line with Army regulations, said Lt. Col. William D. Jenkins of the 35th Infantry Division's Kosovo Force 9."
Farther down in the article, I read explanations for why the crosses and sign had to go.

"Army regulations prohibit chapels from being 'named for any person, living or dead, or designated by a name or term suggesting any distinctive faith group,' [35th Infantry Division's Kosovo Force 9] Jenkins said."

There's a good reason for having a regulation like that. Many American citizens are Christian, but quite a few are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, have other beliefs, or no religious beliefs at all. And people from any of these groups are likely to be in the American military.
  • " 'This is not a new regulation and exists to protect the free exercise of religion of all soldiers,' Jenkins said.
  • "Army regulations require the exterior of military chapels to remain free of religious symbols.
  • " 'The interior of each U.S. Army chapel reflects faith-specific signs, symbols, etc., during each faith group's service so that their faith is fully represented during their service,' Jenkins said. 'The exterior of Army chapels is a different matter since the chapels are used by many different faith groups.'
  • "The crosses will be replaced with a stone monument bearing the name of the chapel and the crest of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps, Jenkins said.
  • "He said the removed crosses will be used by chaplains during special services like the sunrise service. The memorial sign will be returned to Oglesby's unit, the 36th Division."
When it's over:
  • The Kosovo chapel will be usable by whoever needs it
  • Chaplain Oglesby's memory will be honored by the sign that had been on the chapel
  • The three crosses will be available for use
Sounds reasonable to me.

As to what the more brittle columnists and bloggers will make of this bit of news: I think we get an idea of that from Michelle Malkin's reaction to a scarf.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

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In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.