Editor's note: The following column originally appeared in The Washington Times.
Finally righting one of many shameful actions President Obama has imposed on our nation, Congress is passing legislation which makes eligible those killed and injured in the Fort Hood terrorist attack of 2009 to receive the Purple Heart.
In an early indication of the how craven Mr. Obama's politics are, he knew the attack sent a message that with his election the enemy felt they had free reign. So, Mr. Obama decided to pretend the soldiers under attack by the enemy were in fact just victims of "workplace violence."
The refusal by the administration to recognize the true nature of the attack meant our soldiers who were injured could not receive the Purple Heart with which comes a variety of benefits. Additionally, for those killed, their families would also be denied the additional benefits afforded loved ones whose family member gave all serving our country.
But now, that is about to change. In May of this year, language was included in the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) congressional conference agreement giving victims of that terrorist attack Purple Heart status. Before the end of the lame duck session, the only thing standing between righting this wrong for our military is the signature of Mr. Obama.
According to NBC in Dallas, Rep. Roger Williams and Rep. John Carter, Texas Republicans, released a statement Thursday saying, "This is a huge step in the joint efforts to help victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack, and I'd like to thank Rep. John Carter and many of our Texas colleagues for their endless support. Our nation's leaders must uphold our solemn commitment to provide for troops in harm's way — whether at home or abroad. President Obama has neglected those whose lives were taken and forever changed that day. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation gives President Obama yet another opportunity to honor his pledge to take care of our American soldiers who were victims of terrorism."
Yet, we didn't need an act of Congress to make this happen. The Pentagon awarded Purple Hearts and civilian medals to all members of the armed services who were killed or wounded during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. On Sept. 28, 2001 the Savannah Morning News reported, "All members of the U.S. armed services killed or wounded in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be awarded the Purple Heart, and the Defense Department has created the Defense of Freedom Medal to be awarded to all department civilians killed or wounded.
"In making the announcement Thursday, [then-] Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the tributes were appropriate, given the unprecedented nature of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. ... "They were acts of war — military strikes against the United States of America," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
What a difference a Democratic administration makes. When faced with the Fort Hood terrorist attack, the Obama Pentagon sent out a smug and sneering "position paper" detailing why they refused to award the Purple Heart to the victims. ABC News reported in April 2013, "A Pentagon position paper, delivered to congressional staff on Friday and obtained by ABC News, says giving the award to the Fort Hood victims could "irrevocably alter the fundamental character of this time-honored decoration" and "undermine the prosecution of Major Nidal Hasan [the alleged Fort Hood shooter] by materially and directly compromising Major Hasan's ability to receive a fair trial. ...
"Despite extensive evidence that Hasan was in communication with Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack, the military has denied the victims a Purple Heart and has treated the incident as "workplace violence" instead of "combat related" or terrorism. Last month, a spokesman for recently appointed Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, told ABC News the Department's position had not changed under his leadership."
As the Washington Times reported last week, "The new medal criteria will apply to all military members injured or killed at Fort Hood as well as to two soldiers attacked in a 2009 shooting outside an Arkansas recruiting office. ... Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, called the change "long overdue." An aide said Mr. Cornyn will push the Pentagon to award the Purple Hearts as soon as possible after the defense bill is signed into law."
As in 2001, recognizing the sacrifice of our military is something an administration can do without intervention by Congress. For the Obama administration, so fond of executive orders, and reigning with his pen and phone, his refusal to allow the Purple Heart for the Fort Hood massacre victims remains one of his more disturbed actions.
The right thing to do was obvious to President George W. Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld. Now, with Secretary Hagel on his way out, will Defense Secretary nominee Ash Carter do the right thing, or be as determined as his boss to continue the insult?
With this legislation, even though five years late, we are also reminded about what Congress can do, if they really want to. It was clear in the spring of this election year that we 'stupid' natives had grown restless. Amazing how much politicians can get done when we the people begin to order up the tar and feathers.