POLITICS

D.C. veterans call on Congress to fly D.C. flag at military ceremonies

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The fight to fly the D.C. flag at military ceremonies is gaining new momentum. D.C. veterans spent the afternoon petitioning lawmakers for their support.

They want it written in law that federal agencies should raise the District flag when all 50 state flags are flown.

Military bases routinely display all the state flags during official events, like homecomings and award ceremonies, as a gesture of appreciation for the sacrifices of our service-members.

But for those who hail from the District and the U.S. territories, their home flags are left out.

"Recognition ceremonies in the Army, in the military, is a way of showing respect and recognition for a job well done for returning service members overseas and to not be recognized is, as we said before, a slap in the face," says Herb Tillery, a 27-year Army veteran, and a Washingtonian.

But when Tillery returned from service, his hometown flag was missing from award ceremonies.

The same is true for his son, who has spent 11 years and counting defending our country.

No military base is required by law to fly the District and territorial flags.

Last month, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton successfully led a series of speeches on Capitol Hill, calling for change.

Now it's up to the Senate to adopt language, already approved in the House, requiring the flags be raised.

Tomi Rucker's son serves in the Navy. But she got a rude awakening during his graduation from basic training.

"They have an Army guard that comes out with flags representing every recruit that's there," Rucker says. "The flag is lowered and raised for that recruit. That recruit's family gets to get up and cheer for theirs, so I'm waiting for my moment and it never comes."

Matthew Cary is the director of the District's Office of Veterans Affairs, which represents more than 40,000 D.C. veterans and their families.

"I think it's just an oversight," says Cary.

Oversight or not, Cary wants the flags flown.

"We have sacrificed our men and women all the way back to the Civil War. So I think it's high time the Department of Defense and the Congress of the United States make it a permanent issue.

The group plans to meet with other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to drum up support.

If they get their flag flown, their next goal will be giving D.C. a vote in Congress.

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