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Hines speaks on legislation

Tommy Hines, with the Lunenburg County Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9954, was one of several speakers who addressed the General Assembly last Wednesday regarding potential house bills about memorials in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

A news release from the mayor of the Town of Crewe, Greg Eanes, cited that Hines read a statement issued Jan. 14 by VFW Department Commander Mike Boehme, which read, “The Commander of the Department of Virginia, Veterans of Foreign Wars, fully supports Virginia’s existing law protecting war memorials to the commonwealth’s veterans and opposes any legislative attempts to weaken the existing law. Proposed legislation introduced in the 2018 Virginia Assembly threatens to gut the protections afforded war memorials from all conflicts and even eliminates existing verbiage allowing private citizens and organizations to care for war memorials.”

The House Bills (HB) in question were from the Cities, Counties and Towns Subcommittee. The bills included HB 818, HB 1097, HB 1098 and HB 1225.

HB 818 suggested the creation of a fund for localities to potentially help offset the costs of lawful removal or relocation of certain monuments.

HB 1097 would potentially allow a locality that owns a monument or memorial to relocate it or enable a private owner of a monument or memorial to move a memorial with six months of notice from the county.

HB 1098 would potentially provide “that for any monument or memorial erected prior to 1900, notwithstanding any Act of Assembly regarding the preservation of monuments or memorials enacted prior to 1900, the governing body of the locality in which the monument or memorial is located may remove the monument or memorial to be prominently displayed in an outdoor location on the grounds of a locality-owned history museum that is located within one-quarter mile of the existing site, provided that the governing body has affirmatively voted to relocate the monument or memorial.”

HB 1225 would potentially allow a locality to remove or provide “the upkeep, maintenance or contextualization of any monument or memorial for war veterans.” Current legislation prevents localities from interfering with the operations of monuments or memorials, the house bill cites.

The bills had been voted, according to records from the Virginia Legislative Information System, as passing by indefinitely, meaning that the bills would not pass the current meeting, but may be reconsidered at a later time.

Hines said Monday the VFW’s stance holds meaning for him as he is a Purple Heart recipient and his area of service was located close to the Cambodian border in the Vietnam War.

“Greg (Eanes) and I spoke against the house bills concerning the war memorials because all of them were, in part or all together, to remove or take down the memorials,” he said.

“The memorials are memorials to war veterans,” Hines said. “To remove a war memorial dedicated to our service is particularly offensive to me.”

He said he approved of the actions taken by members of the subcommittee.

“I really appreciated the actions of the committee, because they realize the importance (of this),” Hines said. “We were not the only speakers against this.”