'God' banned from U.S. Capitol Flag Certificates
By By Jo Bonner
In September, the Architect of the Capitol determined the word "God" should not appear on certificates included with flags flown over the United States Capitol.
Many constituents, through their congressional representative, request a flag to be flown to commemorate an important date or event.
Last month, a 17-year old from Ohio requested a flag for his grandfather with the certificate to read, "for his dedication and love of God, Country, and family."
However, the Architect of the Capitol would not allow the word "God" to be included. The certificate was returned with the word "God" removed, reading "for the love of family and Country."
The Architect cited his own rules for Flag Office Services, rule number eight which states, "…religious expressions are not permitted on flag certificates." He ruled that the use of the word "God" in the phrase, "for the love of God, family, and Country" constituted a religious expression.
I have written to both the Architect and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for an immediate repeal of this policy. Our nation was founded on a belief in God. The word "God" is carved into the walls of both chambers of Congress; the acknowledgment of God is also found in our Constitution.
For the Architect of the Capitol to prohibit "God" from appearing on certificates for flags flown over the U.S. Capitol puts at risk our religious freedoms and our national heritage; our founders recognized the importance of religion as the foundation of good government, a principle that has been carried by proud tradition into the present day. My hope is this decision will be reconsidered and reversed.
America's Junior Miss visits D.C.
America's 50th Junior Miss, Nora Ali, was in our nation's capital last week. She had a whirlwind visit – meeting with the president at the White House and returning for a State Dinner, visiting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and meeting with members of the Minnesota delegation; I also was honored to host Nora and AJM Executive Director, Becky Jo Peterson, with a small lunch in the Capitol.
Nora, a freshman at Harvard University, was named America's Junior Miss (AJM) 2007 in Mobile this past June, becoming the first AJM of the Muslim faith and only the second Junior Miss from Minnesota to win the title.
AJM's scholarship program has been vital to young women across the United States. Founded in Mobile, Alabama, in 1958, by the city's Junior Chamber of Commerce, the program held its first national program with fifteen states represented.
The program aims to promote self-esteem through its "Be Your Best Self" program. This program, adopted in 1987, is a way for Junior Miss participants to share a positive, personal approach with young people and help them lead successful and productive lives.
AJM encourages making a commitment to self-improvement with a focus on education, community service, proper nutrition, staying fit, living by moral principles, setting goals, and striving to reach those goals.
Since its founding, over $87.7 million has been awarded to over 700,000 contestants. Last year, more than $2 million was awarded in cash scholarships with almost 200 universities and colleges offering college-granted scholarships to participants.
Former participants in the program include Diane Sawyer, Deborah Norville, E.D. Hill, Kim Basinger, Dr. Linda Rutledge Delbridge, and Debra Messing.
It is my sincere hope that AJM will continue to be a source of inspiration to young women across the United States for another 50 years.
Academy Night reminder
As a reminder, I will be hosting my fifth annual Academy Night for high school juniors and seniors interested in attending one of our nation's service academies. This year's Academy Night will be Monday, October 8, 2007, from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. in the auditorium of St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile.
Academy night emphasizes the educational opportunities available at the distinguished United States Service Academies and provides information on the requirements and procedures for seeking a congressional nomination. Representatives from each of the academies will give a short presentation on their respective institutions.
Our office looks forward to working with any interested students and their families toward a nomination to one of the five academies. For more information, please contact Brooks Chew in my Baldwin County office at 251-943-2073.
Congressman Everett to Retire
Late last month, Terry Everett, who has represented Alabama's Second District for the past 15 years, announced he will be retiring at the end of this term.
Terry has been a passionate advocate in the House not only for southeast Alabama but for the entire state of Alabama. I have had the privilege of serving with him on the House Agriculture Committee, where he is the nation's foremost advocate for peanut farmers.
He has worked tirelessly on behalf of our nation's military, her veterans, and the intelligence community, where his experience has been invaluable.
I am honored to serve with Terry, and I wish him the very best in this next phase of his life.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.