RITTMAN, OH - The Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman is the final resting place of thousands of patriots who served and defended their country in times of war and peace.
Veterans who make the pilgrimage to the cemetery to pay their respects to their comrades-in-arms say that one of the most powerful tributes that can be paid to service men and women is a battlefield cross, made up of a helmet, a rifle and a pair of boots.
Vietnam Veteran Bill Overton told Fox 8 News, "It's a great honor. That's your comrades recognizing you, what you did, who you are. You're a brother, you're a member of this military."
Overton and other members of his VFW Post in Strongsville were outraged when they learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs the cemetery, had removed a battlefield cross because of a complaint that it included the depiction of a realistic looking gun.
Fox 8 spoke with the administrator of the cemetery, who told us that the removal of the battlefield cross was as a result of "guidance" from Veterans Affairs headquarters in Washington. The policy applies to all cemeteries operated by Veterans Affairs.
"I think it's absolutely ridiculous, they don't know anything about our country, our history, they don't even know why they have the right to complain about it. The reason why they have the right is these guys right here. That's why they have the right to do it," said Overton.
When asked if the banning of the battlefield cross would apply to monuments as well, the administrator of the cemetery told us that the policy only applied to "three-dimensional" depictions of guns.
Oddly enough, the battlefield cross can be displayed during a veteran's burial, but must be removed after the ceremony.
Veterans say the rules drafted by bureaucrats are an affront to those who served their country and have no place on the hallowed grounds of a National Cemetery.
"I have yet to meet the Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, Coast Guard that isn't upset over this," said Overton. "They're trying to change our history, and we're not going to let them do it.'