KTTH OPINION

Rantz: School replaces Veterans Day assembly with ‘Peace Assembly’

Nov 8, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2023, 9:18 am

Veteran’s day controversy...

Sign in front of Benjamin Rush Elementary in Redmond. (Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

(Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

A Redmond elementary school canceled the annual assembly to commemorate and honor Veterans Day. They are replacing it with a “Peace Assembly,” leaving some parents “disgusted” by the decision.

Benjamin Rush Elementary in the Lake Washington School District traditionally holds a Veterans Day assembly. It features the school’s choir performing songs like, “It’s a Grand Old Flag,” “This Land is Your Land” and the national anthem. But this year’s celebration will look different.

In place of the Veterans Day assembly, the school’s administration opted to recognize the International Day of Tolerance, sponsored by UNESCO, on November 15 (International Day of Tolerance is November 16). And some parents feel like they were kept in the dark about the change.

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Peace Assembly replacing Veterans Day

Families did not have much time to learn about the change, which was jarring to those who expected a Veterans Day assembly. The “Peace Assembly” appeared in the school’s newsletter on October 29 and November 5, but it did not explain what it was.

“I was extremely disappointed and yet not surprised,” one Benjamin Rush Elementary father told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. He asked for anonymity to prevent reprisals for speaking up. “For years the Veterans Assembly has been a highlight at the school and one of the few midday assemblies that gathers a fairly large audience of parents to come hear the speakers.”

The school ditched the patriotic songs for those centered around the assembly’s theme of Tolerance, Acceptance and Kindness. Some of the songs to be performed are “Live in Peace,” “Peacebuilder Pledge Song,” “Amani Utupe Na Ustawi” and “Namaste.”

“Students will spend most of the assembly singing songs, with each grade level performing two songs that they learned while attending music classes at the school,” a district spokesperson said of the Peace Assembly in a statement to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

To the father who reached out to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, this seems like a slight of veterans who fought those who threatened peace. But he said this year’s decision is emblematic of a partisan administration. And he’s not the only one upset, explaining he’s spoken to others who don’t like the decision.

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There’s little pride

The father explained that over the course of the last several years, “the school administration has moved strongly away from pride in our traditions and American history.” He also thinks it would have been particularly noteworthy to hold the assembly given Israel’s war against the terrorist organization Hamas.

“I know that that there is a lot of tension right now in our communities about the war in Israel,” noting the school has a “fairly large Israeli population.”

The father insisted on a Veterans Day assembly because “we should be taking the time to show our children and our community that we have brave men and women who are willing to stand up and fight for our freedom and the peace that other places in the world can only dream of.”

The school, however, thinks they’re still committed to highlighting veterans.

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Other schools are still holding Veterans Day assemblies

A district spokesperson downplayed the decision to replace the Veterans Day assembly. She noted that students will still learn about Veterans Day and honor veterans by “watching videos about the sacrifices that veterans have made and making cards to thank veterans.” Those cards will be delivered to Seattle VA Medical Center. The spokesperson said this provides a “more personal connection between students and veterans.”

But the father argued assemblies provide a more meaningful expression of support for veterans. And Ben Rush appears to be alone in this decision.

At least ten other district schools are hosting Veteran’s Day assemblies, including Ella Baker Elementary, Timberline Middle and Emerson High. According to the district calendar, Benjamin Rush is the only school hosting a Peace Assembly instead.

“I remember three years ago, sitting next to a parent who had recently moved to America from Germany,” the father explained. “She was sitting there with tears in her eyes. Afterward, she explained to me that she was blown away with the patriotism and American pride.”

He said that kind of experience will now be missed.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow him on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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