Pennsylvania school moves to block prayer for Veterans Day celebration, American Legion says they won’t come
American Legion Post 311 in Hawley, Pennsylvania is taking a stand: If prayer by its chaplain is not allowed for a school’s Veterans Day celebration, Legion members won’t be participating.
According to post officials, members met with the school to discuss plans for the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Wallenpaupack Area High School on Nov. 11.
At the meeting, post officials learned that their chaplain would be barred from leading a prayer because the school district was hosting the program.
“It was like a bomb dropped,” executive board member Pat Thompson said.
Thompson attended the meeting with William Kemmett, commander of the Hawley Wilson-Kelch Post 311 American Legion. They questioned whether prayer would be an issue since news surfaced that school graduation prayers led by clergy would no longer be allowed.
Thompson emphasized that the post does not fault school district staff or administrators. He said school officials were understanding of the post’s position, and everyone left on good terms.
Other parts of the program include student essay winners, patriotic songs by the entire fourth grade, and a guest speaker.
Thompson has been vocal about the prayer issue, writing a letter to the News Eagle editor.
“I was disgusted when prayer was removed from the graduation exercise. We asked at the meeting if our chaplain could say a prayer at the ceremony. We open our American Legion meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer and reciting our preamble, which starts out with ‘For God and country.’
“Veterans Day is our day and all we wanted was for our chaplain to say a prayer. There are no atheists in foxholes. Saying a prayer does not establish a religion.”