Membership: Controversy Clouds Cold War Medal
If a Cold War medal is created by Congress, should its overseas recipients qualify for membership? That's a question that may have to be dealt with in the near future. Meanwhile, here's a refresher course on historical VFW eligibility requirements and an update on medal proposals.
With more than 275,000 applications sent in, the Cold War Recognition Certificate has definitely been popular. So popular, in fact, that some believe Cold War veterans should get medals, too.
"Victory medals were awarded to memorialize the defeat of America's enemies in World Wars I and 11 and honor the men and women who won the victories,' said Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas). "I do not want people to forget that we fought a Cold War with an evil empire and that Americans won the war."
Although proposals for a Cold War medal were made earlier this year in both the House and Senate, neither was approved. Furthermore, it is unclear at this time if such a medal will ever be created.
But it's not surprising that the proposals are rejected. VFW magazine published an article about creating a Cold War medal in the "Membership" section of the March 1997 issue. At the time, the verdict was that such a medal probably would not be approved because of the tremendous manpower and funding necessary to process the resulting paperwork. (A privately made medal is available for Cold War vets, though it is not officially authorized.)
Cold War Victory Commemoration
Celebrating America's victory in the Cold War, however, is a concept supported by Congress. A provision (Section 1053Commemoration of the Victory ofFreedom in the Cold War) in the 2000 Defense Authorization Act (S. 1059) asks the President to "issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe the victory in the Cold War with appropriate ceremonies and activities. At press time, S. 1059 had been approved by Congress and was awaiting the President's signature.
Section 1053 calls the Cold War "the longest and most costly struggle for democracy and freedom in the history of mankind," but, oddly, does not define when it began or ended. It does note that the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9,1989, was "a major event of the Cold War" and that "the Soviet Union collapsed on Dec. 25,1991.7
If approved, Sec. 1053 would:
budget $5 million for a celebration;
create a 12-member "Commission on Victory in the Cold War" that will decide the date of the celebration and how the money will be spent; and
include participation by the armed forces. …