Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)
I am pretty much known as a law-and-order type of guy, so when I got busted on Capitol Hill I took it pretty hard. The Capitol Hill hall monitors have issued warning citations to Members of Congress. The dastardly offense – paying tribute to American warriors by placing a poster outside the front door of my Washington, DC office with photos of our troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
That's right – Republicans and Democrats all over the Hill are getting busted for honoring the memory of fallen soldiers from our home states and districts. This all stemmed from one complaint about “obstacles” in the hallways and then in typical government fashion the bureaucrats sprung into action patrolling the halls of Congress and ridding them of these so-called “obstacles.”
Twenty-two of my colleagues and I choose to honor the men and women who have fought and given their lives in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My display represents the 26 men and women with ties to the Second Congressional District of Texas that have been killed voluntarily serving our nation. We post these displays outside our offices so that we, our staff and visitors will be constantly reminded of the sacrifices of our troops.
Our type of government exists because real Americans go to war and some of them don't come back. And these photos are of some, 26, of those Americans. So, naturally I took to the House floor to blast this attack on free speech and how government bureaucrats are wrong to try to prevent these displays.
A phrase from the Texas War for Independence immediately came to mind: “Come and Take It.” One of my favorite Texas battle flags bares these words of defiance. It came about in Gonzales, Texas, in late September of 1835 and the disagreement over a cannon resulted in the first battle of the Texas Revolution.
The famous bronze cannon was loaned to the Gonzales colonists by the Mexican government to defend themselves from hostile Apaches and Comanches. But when tensions between the Texians and the Mexican government began to heat up, Mexican Corporal Casimiro De León and five soldiers of the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parrasqv were sent to reclaim the cannon. But, that was easier said than done.
The feisty Texians said they were keeping the gun and took the soldiers prisoner. The ladies of settlement made a flag bearing the words “Come and Take It!” to be flown over the cannon. The gun had been buried in a peach orchard near the Colorado River for safety, but was retrieved shortly after and readied for battle and mounted on cart wheels. The Mexican government responded by sending 100 troops to put an end to the dispute and were met by a militia of frontier Texians and Indian fighters who simply said, "There it is – come and take it." The rest as they say is Texas history.
The visitors to my office call this poster a fitting tribute and thank me for honoring our troops. Apparently, the congressional hall monitors have nothing better to do with their time and taxpayer money than to regulate hall traffic and posters. One would think that in the big scheme of things, American citizens, especially the families of the fallen, would want Members of Congress to display these tributes rather than not display them. But, the hall police say that if I don't take it down by the end of the month that they will remove it and trash it because it's an ``obstacle'' in their steely bureaucratic eyes.
I hope the Architect of the Capitol changes this improper edict and Congress doesn’t have to waste more time arguing to keep these tributes on display. In my opinion, this arbitrary rule violates the first amendment of free speech and freedom of expression and I am going to have to respectfully refuse to comply. Our poster isn't going anywhere – ``Come and Take It'' if you dare.
And that's just the way it is.