Army Air Corps Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Herman “Herk” Streitburger, of Bedford, New Hampshire credits his Christian religion and his Bible for surviving as a POW captive in a German Prisoner of War camp during WWII.
The 99-year old veteran enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on Valentine’s Day 1941 at the age of 21, becoming a gunner and radio operator on a B-24 Liberator bomber attached to the 343rd Bombardments Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force.
On June 26, 1944, after successfully logging 50 missions Streitburger’s luck suddenly ran out after his bomber came under heavy enemy attack by German Luftwaffe fighters. “Herk” escaped death, however, ended up as a prisoner of war, with one of his only possessions still available to him within the camp, his Holy Bible.
Fast forward to 2019, and the Bible that Streitburger carried throughout the war and donated to Manchester VA Medical Center years ago, has suddenly come under attack by an atheist group that has just filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs, demanding that the display housing the Bible be removed from the VA facility.
The anti-Christian organization founded by Mikey Weinstein dubbed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), vilified the display as “a repugnant example of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism, exceptionalism, superiority, and domination, and it cannot stand.”
The group continued their anti-Christian tirade calling the POW Memorial display “unconstitutional” and an “outrage,” however the VA (after first removing the display), fired back stating it “won’t be ‘bullied’ into removing the Bible from the display.”
Department of Veteran Affairs Press Secretary Curt Cashour told Fox News the Bible, although incorrectly moved earlier this year, stays.
“This lawsuit backed by a group known for questionable practices and unsuccessful lawsuits – is nothing more than an attempt to force VA into censoring a show of respect for America’s POW/MIA community.”
Adding, “Make no mistake: VA will not be bullied on this issue.”
The VA admitted that they were first bullied into briefly removing the display when Weinstein complained about it, but put it back following an outpouring of complaints from veterans groups and religious liberty organizations
The display has also come to the attention of Mike Berry, chief of staff at the First Liberty Institute, the same law firm that argued on behalf of the Bladensburg “Peace Cross” Memorial in front of the Supreme Court, sent a letter on Wednesday to the VA in support of the POW display housing Streitburger’s Bible.
Berry also had a direct message for Weinstein by way of Fox News; “As usual Mikey Weinstein is wrong on the fact and wrong on the law but that’s never stopped him from bullying military and VA officials and their facilities across the country. If he wants to remove that display or any part of it he’s going to have to come through us.”
Berry said VA policy clearly permits a Bible to be on display.
“They’re there to cause people to reflect and honor those who were held captive and remember those who were missing,” Berry said. “For someone like Mikey Weinstein or any other group to try to desecrate or remove any display, it’s a slap in the face to veterans who’ve served.”
Streitburger’s Bible isn’t just a religious symbol for Christians but a historical artifact that survived one of the darkest chapters in human history, moreover a testament of survival and perseverance when all seemed lost by one man’s belief in a power greater than his own.