The NCHRA applauds and supports Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) and his "The Stolen Valor Act of 2005," the initiative that will help preserve the honor of men and women who have fought for the United States of America. The Act, if made into law, will allow prosecutors to seek fines and imprisonment for those who claim in print or in speech to have received military awards and honors they have not actually received.
"Awards usually come at the expense of personal sacrifice," said David Rice, President of the Coalition. "When a person seeks honor and recognition for acts of valor she or he has not performed, that person insults and diminishes the sacrifices real heroes have made, and disparages the nation's defenders. Every act of stolen valor belittles the country's true heroes."
It is already against the law in the United States for people to wear specific military medals (such as the Purple Heart) they have not been awarded and have not earned. The issue came into widespread public notice two weeks ago when the official web site for the movie "Wedding Crashers" offered viewers the option of printing out a paper "Purple Heart." Activists for veterans did not find the attempt at humor at all amusing.
"It is a matter of simple respect," Mr. Rice said. "Too many people have been falsely granted attention and respect they have not earned by claiming to be war heroes. One fine example was L. Ron Hubbard. His business, Scientology Incorporated, still promotes the lies he told about his Navy career. Under the proposed law, we hope to see Scientology Inc. forced to remove Hubbard's lies from their web site, or have them pay a fine and sent to prison if they refuse."
L. Ron Hubbard, a convicted felon who fabricated the Scientology self-help business in 1954, claimed to be a war hero who was awarded from 21 to 27 medals, including two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. In reality, L. Ron Hubbard never saw combat and was relieved of duty three times for incompetence. Hubbard was awarded the four basic medals that every Navy serviceman earned in the Pacific Theater (the four medals: American Theater, American Defense, Asiatic-Pacific, and Victory).
"Hubbard's fraudulent claims is just the tip of the iceberg," said Rice. "As the law in the United States currently stands, anyone may claim military awards and honors they have not earned. With the proposed law, honor to the nation's legitimate heroes and defenders will be restored.