Mississippi Politicians Request Removal of LGBTQ Pride Flag at Biloxi National Cemetery

As national debates continue over LGBTQ issues and laws continue, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and U.S. Representatives Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Michael Guest (R-Miss.), and Mike Ezell (R-Miss.) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis R. McDonough calling for the removal of an LGBT “Pride” flag now flying at the entrance of the Biloxi National Cemetery on a pole normally reserved for a U.S. flag.

In their letter to McDonough, the Mississippi lawmakers push back on recent comments from the VA defending the decision.

“Replacing the United States flag with a flag that promotes a particular sexual or gender identity goes against the very mission of our national cemeteries. These sites were established to be a shrine ‘sacred to the honor and memory of those interred or memorialized there.’ Cemeteries should be places for reflection and respect, not public virtue signaling,” the lawmakers wrote.

The delegation members call on McDonough to take immediate action to reinstate the U.S. flag and remember the VA’s core mission.

“This political stunt is yet another example of this Administration’s willingness to promote its political agenda rather than focus on its mission as the executive branch. Our veterans expect the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide services, not promote controversial ideologies,” the lawmakers wrote.

Biloxi National Cemetery is located in Harrison County, about five miles west of the center of Biloxi on the grounds of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) and adjacent to the Keesler Field Air Force Base in Mississippi.

According to the VAMC, the cemetery was established in March 1934 as part of the VA Medical Center. Biloxi Cemetery’s first burial was held on March 24,1934, with the interment of Private Edgar A. Ross, 1st Regiment of the Tennessee Infantry.

From 1934 to 1973 the purpose of the cemetery was to provide a final resting place solely for veterans who died in the adjoining medical center.

Since its establishment in 1934, Biloxi’s has increased in size twice as the result of land transfers from the VAMC. In 1982, 17 acres were added to the original 25 and, in 1996, 12 more were added for a total of 54 acres.

Matt O'Hern
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