KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Army has reversed itself and will continue to help a nonprofit group distribute honorary medallions that cite a Bible verse.
Fallen Friend, which since 1995 has distributed nearly 2,000 medallions to survivors of those killed in the line of duty, had been told by the Army in May that it could no longer help forward the medallions because the inscription “John 15:13” was inappropriate and might offend some families.
The verse, which is not on the gold-colored medallion, reads, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
The chief of the Army’s Casualty Operations Division notified Fallen Friend President Bob Parker yesterday of the Army’s change of heart.
“Upon further evaluation, it has been determined that while there is a biblical reference on the medallion, this reference is not of such nature that it is likely to be offensive to most next of kin,” Lt. Col. Kevin Logan wrote in e-mail to Mr. Parker. “I am sincerely sorry for any inconvenience our earlier decision made on you and your organization.”
Since word spread of Mr. Parker’s troubles with the Army, he has received numerous e-mail and letters in support.
“This is what makes America beautiful,” Mr. Parker said in a telephone interview from his home in Clairfield, about 40 miles north of Knoxville. “If people hadn’t gotten involved, the Army wouldn’t have changed its mind.”
The military branches provide Mr. Parker the names of the deceased, and he sends the medals to the branches to be distributed to the survivors.
Each medallion is also inscribed with the person’s name and the words “A Fallen Friend.”