VA Secretary Refuses to Make Motto “Gender Neutral.”
The official motto at the VA has been under fire, with women in Congress and other demanding it be changed to “gender neutral.” The motto is a reference to an Abraham Lincoln Civil War speech in which he stated that there is a responsibility “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie refused to change it, saying, “I’m not arrogant enough to say I want to change Abraham Lincoln’s words.”
During a hearing at the Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Wilkie crossed swords with Rep Kathleen Rice (D-NY) who suggested that Abraham Lincoln would have wanted the motto to be changed in light of today’s world where women are also in military service.
“I hope someday you will change your opinion on that…
In keeping with Lincoln’s focus on equality for all, I’m sure if he were alive today he would say women should be acknowledged as well,” and shouldn’t be left off the motto “just because they didn’t serve back then.” Rep Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
Purporting to know what Lincoln “would have” wanted is a stupid statement. The proposed changes are, according to Military.com:
“‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.”
Advocacy groups have recommended another version: “To care for those who shall have borne the battle and their families and survivors.”
A VA event in February had a program that showed a “gender neutral” motto. The VA later said it was a mistake. Attributing a wrong quote to Lincoln was the main mistake.
At VA headquarters for the launch of the new claims appeals process. The agency's motto in the back of the event program is gender neutral. That's been a point of contention recently. pic.twitter.com/WHYZlgd8Jx— Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling) February 19, 2019
Changing Abraham Lincoln’s words: is that like yanking down a statue? If they’re going to change the motto, then don’t attribute it to Abraham Lincoln. Pretending something Lincoln said that he didn’t say is completely dishonest and attempts once again to erase history. Either leave it alone or change it without attribution to a man who knew nothing of women in military service.