Letter of refusal from the American Legion


Here is the response I received from the American Legion:

“Pagan Veterans of the United States of America
Abraham ooiman Post #1
Attn: Charles Arnold
Interim National Commander”

“In response to your request to carry your organizational flag in the 2010
Memorial Day parade, I wish to inform you of the following.

“As you know, Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor veterans, in particular fallen comrades for all wars and conflicts in which the United States has participated, regardless of religious affiliation. To my knowledge, no specific religious group, Christian, Jewish, Moslem, not any social group, Gay, Lesbian, Heterosexual, not or any racial not ethnic group, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. has ever been granted the separate privilege to join in with the Honor Guard in the parade.”

“In your request, you state several times that your organization is in fact
‘social, fraternal and religious’ in nature. while I respect your role and right
to gather and participate in such an organization and I certainly respect the
beliefs of all Americans and while I understand and recognize your recently won right to have your religious symbols displayed on headstones of deceased veterans, allowing any religious group to join in the Honor Guard would not only set a precedent, it would violate the long-held principle of separation of church and state. That is clearly not something we wish to countenance.”

“In short, we cannot grant your request. Perhaps social change will lead to a
redefinition of things in the future, but at this time, it is not within our
purview to allow this. I ask for your understanding for out denial of this
request.”

“Sincerely
William H. Tropia
Commander
Knowles-Doyle Post 317”

Some comments from me:

“To my knowledge, no specific religious group, Christian, Jewish, Moslem, not any social group, Gay, Lesbian, Heterosexual, not or any racial not ethnic group, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. has ever been granted the separate privilege to join in with the Honor Guard in the parade.”

He forgets that PVUSA is a secular “VETERANS” organization. As for the sexual orientation issue, I have no idea where that is coming from except that I did raise a complaint with my VFW Post about some of the language used in the Post. Same for race. I have never talked to the Legion about these issues. Commander Tropia did say that he had read the VFW rejection letter before composing his own letter.

“In your request, you state several times that your organization is in fact
‘social, fraternal and religious’ in nature.”

No, I did not say that we were a religious organization.

“While I respect your role and right to gather and participate in such an organization and I certainly respect the beliefs of all Americans and while I understand and recognize your recently won right to have your religious symbols displayed on headstones of deceased veterans, allowing any religious group to join in the Honor Guard would not only set a precedent, it would violate the long-held principle of separation of church and state. That is clearly not something we wish to countenance.”

Again, PVUSA is not a religious organization. Secondly, the “Church/State” statement is ridiculous as there are prayers at the service.

The one thing I will add here is that I met with Commander Tropia and he and I had a pleasant chat – before the incident on Veterans Day. At that time he stated that he is willing to revisit our application before the Post membership.

Charles

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About paganveteran

National Coordinator of the Pagan Veterans Headstone Campaign and current National Commander, Pagan Veterans of the United States of America. Author, writer, poet, speaker and general disturber of the peace.
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