VA hospital permanently replaces WWII display
Last updated 3-12-09 at 2:18 p.m.
By Carly Everson
The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A VA hospital director who upset veterans by removing a framed newspaper with the headline “Japs Surrender” said March 4 that he has permanently replaced it with a later headline declaring “Peace!”
The front page of Aug. 14, 1945 edition of The Indianapolis Times has been replaced with the next day’s “Peace!” headline because it better reflects what soldiers who served in World War II were fighting for, said Tom Mattice, director of Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
He said the new display is also not offensive to any particular group of veterans.
“What we really want to do is honor all of the veterans who come through our medical center to make sure that they feel respected and to make sure that their service is just as honored as everybody else who has served this country,” Mattice said.
He said he consulted the VA’s National Center for Ethics for advice and he said they supported his decision to permanently remove the initial newspaper display.
Mattice removed the “Japs Surrender” headline earlier this year after receiving a complaint from an employee offended by the term “Japs,” a common slur during World War II.
The removal sparked a national letter-writing campaign among veterans, who say taking down the display amounts to an attempt to whitewash history.
Ronald “Bud” Albright, commandant of the local Marine Corps League chapter and leader of the letter-writing campaign, says he plans to fight the VA’s decision and still wants the original headline returned.
He says the chapter is discussing writing more letters, circulating a petition, or possibly holding a peaceful protest.
“We don’t intend to let this die. This politically correct stuff has to stop. Next thing you know, they’ll start taking down war memorials and museums,” Albright said.
Mattice said he received about 25 letters and 40 e-mails opposing the removal of the newspaper. But he said there were also letters supporting the removal.
One letter from the child of a Japanese American veteran thanked the VA for its decision. VA officials would not release the identity of the letter-writer, whose father served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit primarily made up of Japanese Americans.
“My father returned from the service only to encounter many situations in which he was told that ‘Japs’ were not wanted,” the letter states. “That slur has a long history in our country, and the 442nd veterans should not be subjected to it.” (end)