A Matter Of Principle
If you look at this week’s Letters to the Editor, you will see a letter from Mr. Rich Erlewine, who was very upset when he stopped by our office the other day.
We could certainly understand why.
Mr. Erlewine explained he had stopped by the DMV to inquire about obtaining a Purple Heart license plate. He was surprised to find out he would have to pay a 50 cent insurance enforcement fee, along with a $1 litter fee for each year remaining on a 10-year cycle, which began in 2015.
We conducted some research of our own into the matter. According to purpleheart.org, currently nine states offer free plates and registration for Purple Heart recipients. Eighteen states offer free plates, but require payment of normal registration fees. The rest of the states have a varying mix of costs for plates and registration.
We also researched other Military plates in the State of West Virginia. A Disabled Veterans plate is also on a 10-year cycle, as is a Former Prisoner of War plate. If an individual was retired from the military, it appears he or she would have to pay a fee based on the expiration of the current license plate. That fee could range from $61.50 to $37. It appears the Renewal Fee is $51.50 per year those plates. A Veteran license plate is $51.60, along with a one-time fee of $10. The renewal fee is $51.60.
The men and women who serve and have served our country have paid so much already. We admit, before Mr. Erlewine’s letter, we didn’t really consider the cost of these plates. Frankly, if one had asked us the cost, we would have assumed they were free.
Mr. Erlewine doesn’t talk about his military service, and never before has he had a Purple Heart license plate. He noted, however, that he wanted one for his new truck.
From our research, it appears many states charge for these plates. Perhaps one would argue that this seems to be the norm, and that Mr. Erlewine didn’t have to pay too much for his plate anyway. It’s just business, one might say.
Hasn’t he paid enough though? A $10.50 license plate could not even begin to repay Mr. Erlewine for his service to our country. Many veterans, like Mr. Erlewine, don’t speak of their service. They are humble. Sometimes the only way they are ever thanked for their service is when a random passerby notices a cap, or even, a license plate.
We hope the powers-that-be reconsider charging for these sorts of license plates, everywhere. Although the extra charges seem to be prevalent, nationwide, perhaps West Virginia can start a movement that would, hopefully, spread to neighboring states and beyond. A $10.50 license plate doesn’t begin to express our gratitude, but it’s certainly a matter of principle.