Christmas decorations at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Texas were removed and discarded after receiving complaints they were “overly religious and offensive.”
For 33 years, Vietnam War veteran Ethel Holloway has decorated the 1C unit of the Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, every holiday season. This year, the hospital received complaints about the Christmas decorations, so the “religious” and allegedly “offensive” portions of various pieces were removed.
"They ruined our decorations,” Holloway told KENS. “They threw them out."
According to Holloway, a decoration that originally said “Be Merry” now merely says “Be.”
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Another adornment consisted of Santa and a sleigh over a banner that said “Merry Christmas.” Now, part of that display has been discarded as well.
"They have Santa and the sleigh but 'Merry Christmas' is gone," Holloway said.
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According to Fox News, some portions of the decorations were accidentally removed and damaged. The hospital has offered to reimburse Holloway for the broken items.
Hospital officials released a statement about the incident:
"VA greatly appreciates holiday donations and volunteerism by students and organizations on behalf of Veterans of all faiths and backgrounds. We continue to accept religious cards and Christmas carols for our patients who celebrate Christmas, as we do for Veterans who celebrate religious holidays of all faiths. In this particular case, we received a number of complaints about the decorations being overly religious and offensive. Veterans entered the military to protect our freedoms, including the freedom to practice a religion of our choice. At VA, it is our duty to uphold and respect the honor and sacrifice of all Veterans, from all faiths and backgrounds."
Not everyone was happy with the changes. Grace Martinez, a friend of Holloway's, told KENS: "They literally took pieces from the middle of a whole train set, because the middle said 'Merry Christmas,' and the caboose and the engine were OK, so they left those two and took out the middle part."
"This stuff of taking down Christmas and not saying 'Merry Christmas,' you have to say 'happy holidays' and everything, I think it's gone overboard," Holloway said.