VFW refusal to allow us to participate

Here is as exact a copy of the letter I received from the local VFW Post Commander.

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

“Please review and in good faith receive this response to your request to carry your organizational flag in the 2010 Yardley-Lower Makefield Memorial Day Parade Honor Color Guard.”

“Memorial Day is a Nationally recognized, thoroughly secular Holiday,
established to honor veterans, and most significantly, fallen comrades from all wars and conflicts the United States has dedicated its fighting forces to,
regardless of religious affiliation of those comrades. Per my research and
understanding, 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 participate or be specifically represented upon or whithin the Honor Color 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 specifically affiliated and identified religious group to participate upon or within in the Memorial Day Parade Honor Color Guard would set a inappropriate precedent and would violate the long-held United States principle of separation of church and state. We cannot advocate nor indorse such practices.”

“Therefore, I, in my role as Commander VFW 6393, and representative Veterans organization for the 2010 Yardley-Lower Makefield Memorial Day Parade, cannot grant your request.”

“Thank you for your cordial and professional request. I trust in your
understanding of my denial of this request.”

“Very Respectfully, Yours in Comradeship
Christopher Desmond
Commander VFW6393
Yardley-Lower Makefiled, PA 19067

Some comments from me.

First, if this ever gets to the point where legal action is necessary, conspiracy to deny our civil rights will be right up there. Not only did the Legion Commander state that he talked the issue over with my VFW Post Commander, the wording of parts of this letter are identical.

I’ll try to keep you all up on what is going on.

Charles

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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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Sorry for the absence

Well, I have been away from here for a few days and it shows, no new postings, no readers; oh well.

Just wanted folks to know that both the Yardley, PA, American Legion and VFW turned down my application to have a member of Pagan Veterans of the USA as part of their Memorial Day Honor Guard. I’ll post what there letters said soonest.

What’s really interesting is that on the morning of November 11 I was at the VFW Post returning some borrowed books when the Post Commander walks in, sees me in my black PVUSA Honor Guard uniform, and asks me if I’m willing to be a member of the Rifle Squad who will fire the salute. I was a little taken aback but then realized that he didn’t have a clue as to the implications of his invitation and my involvement (see the letters and you will understand).

Anyway, I agreed, and participated. The Rifle Squad did not march in the small parade from the Legion to the local memorial but, rather, waited at the memorial.

You have no idea how hard it was for me to keep a relatively straight face the rest of the day, during lunch, etc. I just wanted to cheer.

The reason, for those of you who missed it, is that by inviting me to participate, nearly every argument brought up in the rejection letters was blown to shreds. And as for the “Church/State” issue, the fact that the local Presbyterian minister delivered both an invocation and a benediction – well, so much for that fantasy. With all of this being out that brings the rejections down to either that the Legion and VFW don’t want any other groups getting involved in “their” parade and/or that they just don’t like the word “Pagan.”

This isn’t as simple as it seems. The Legion Post Commander told me that he would hesitate to allow Jewish War Veterans, Catholic War Veterans or even Vietnam Veterans of America to be part of their Honor Guard. In fact he would be hesitant to allow any of there organizations to be involved as a group. Go figure.

More later

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Gifts From Dragons – poetry

Gifts from Dragons

Fewmets

scales of green and blue and red

covering a glittering sandpile

of silver and gold and ground up gems

fewmets

magical leavings

of giant winged worms

a fortune for the taking

fewmets

dragon crap

meant for millionaire cage cleaners

if dragons could live in cages

fewmets

fertile nightsoil for imaginations

stirring creatures of the soul

making us something more that we are

in our mundanity

 

 

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Purple?

Pagan Veterans of the United States of America has chosen purple as the color of its flag and its headwear. While that choice may seem completely natural it really should be explained. You see, the organization didn’t choose purple because it was an inherently “spiritual” color.

The membership of PVUSA chose purple because it is really the combination of two other colors; blue and red. Blue is the color of fidelity, loyalty and dedication; traits that definitely describe just about anyone who has volunteered to serve their country in uniform – and most of those drafted (for those of you too young to remember the draft just be happy). Red is the color of not only will and strength but of blood and of sacrifice.

If you combine the loyalty and dedication of those who have worn the uniform and mix that with the blood that has been shed far too frequently, you come up with purple. I’m not sure that this is what most people mean when they talk about purple being “spiritual” but it definitely qualifies in my book, just as Arlington qualifies as one of the most “spiritual” places in this country.

Most Pagan traditions honor the warrior, and not just the “peaceful warrior” of commercialism, but the real thing, the people who put themselves out there between our society and whatever and whoever seeks to impose their will upon us. Perhaps, with Veterans Day just around the corner it would be a good thing for all Pagans in this country to remember this.

BTW, I suggest that you take a look at the following blog:

http://leftface.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/new-org-for-pagan-vets/

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Will there be a problem?

Yardley, Pennsylvania, is a small town, about half a square mile, 15,000 or so residents, right on the Delaware River. It’s not much but it is close to where I live. It’s where I ran an art gallery for a couple of years. It’s also home of my VFW Post and the American Legion Post I belonged to for a year.

What’s special about Yardley is that it has an absolutely amazing, for its size and location, Memorial Day celebration and parade. It really honors veterans. On November 11th there will also be a remembrance ceremony, it’s a smaller event than Memorial Day but the town still takes it seriously enough to block off the highway in front of the local Veterans’ Memorial, for as long as the ceremony lasts.

About a month and a half ago I sent the local VFW and American Legion Posts a letter in which I, representing Pagan Veterans of the United States of America, sought permission for two things. The first was that these group who really organize and operate the Memorial Day events, allow PVUSA members to participate in their ceremonies and parade. All that really means is that PVUSA members be assigned a spot in the parade order and that our flag be allowed to be placed alongside the flags of all the other veterans organizations at the remembrance ceremony.

The other thing I asked for was that these two veterans organizations allow one of our members to march with them as part of the Honor Guard, near the front of the parade, on an equal basis. Now, in most areas, at least here in the Mid-Atlantic, this should not present much of a problem. After all, a lot of Memorial Day parades include members of both Catholic and Jewish War Veterans organizations as well as the Legion, VFW, VVA, MoPH, etc.

But Yardley is really what I would call “white bread.” The majority of its citizens are white, middle-class and upper-middle-class Protestants. And the main parade organized, my VFW Post Senior Vice-commander, has stated his strong opposition to PVUSA participation. In an attempt to educate him I did loan him a copy of The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca, which he claims to have read.

I have been told that both organizations have discussed and voted on PVUSA participation and that letters have been prepared giving the views of each organization. I have yet to receive these letters and, if and when I do get them and if they refuse PVUSA participation, I’m not sure what to do. My first impulse (triple Leo, Aries rising) is to contact the ACLU and sue. Bu this time I’m not sure what the proper course of action would be.

What do you think? Could you offer some advice?

Thanks

Charles

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Followup to earlier piece on the Second Amendment

If the Second Amendment to our Constitution had been written to protect hunters, collectors and the occasional home owner from a burglar then those who oppose the ownership of assault rifles and large bore rifles would have legitimate grounds for their positions. Unfortunately for them, that is not why the Second Amendment was written and approved.

 

Before anyone unfamiliar with American history, both pre- and immediately post Revolutionary jumps any conclusion concerning my sanity, my patriotism or any possibility that I am a paid employee of the firearms industry I suggest that they take up their own study of history. I suggest this because I am absolutely certain that the vast majority of Americans are not aware that the right to keep and bear arms was guaranteed for one very simple reason. That reason was, and according to the Constitution; and ignoring laws passed during and after the Civil War, that such firearms ownership would guarantee that the citizenry of a state or the country as a whole would have the weaponry needed arms to overthrow a government that they felt had become tyrannical.

 

Put simply, the government gave us weapons so that, if and when we felt that there was no other alternative, we could use those weapons to topple that government. This was a truly revolutionary act by the former armed revolutionaries, guerilla fighters and terrorists who constituted our first government.

 

It is for this reason that Americans today, just as Americans in 1785, have the right, the responsibility even, of possessing firearms equal to those used by the police and military forces of our country. The smooth bore and rifled muskets held by the citizenry then were, at the very least, equal or superior to the firearms issued to our military forces. The “coach guns” of that era are roughly equivalent to automatic assault rifles and sub-machineguns today, and nearly all of those were in private hands. The four, six and eight gauge fowling pieces used by duck and goose hunters of that era could also serve as individually manned small bore artillery.

 

It was the comfortable, conservative grandsons and great-grandsons of those revolutionaries who, faced with the threat to their positions brought about by the Civil War, decided that stability was far more important than the revolutionary ideals upon which this country was founded. It was they who pushed for and had passed laws that made it a crime punishable by death to advocate that any state secede from the Union. It was they who started to change our history. It was they, frightened by the challenge the Confederacy represented to the status quo, who determined that no such challenge in any manner be allowed.

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