Washington state elementary school ditches annual Veterans Day event in favor of ‘Peace Assembly’

Parents of Redmond, Washington, elementary school children are “disgusted” after the annual Veterans Day assembly was ditched in favor of a “Peace Assembly” in recognition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) “International Day of Tolerance.”

According to Seatle’s KTTH, Benjamin Rush Elementary in the Lake Washington School District traditionally marks Veterans Day with patriotic songs from the school’s choir.

Not this year and some families were blindsided by the change.

Though the “Peace Assembly” appeared in the school’s newsletter on Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, it failed to explain what it was.

“I was extremely disappointed and yet not surprised,” one father of a Benjamin Rush Elementary student told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. “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.”

Instead of the choir singing the national anthem and “It’s a Grand Old Flag,” students would hear songs such as “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 explained.

The father, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisals, points to a partisan administration as the reason behind the school’s decision.

Over the last several years, he said, “the school administration has moved strongly away from pride in our traditions and American history.”

The school has a “fairly large Israeli population,” he said, and, given Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists, he thinks the traditional Veterans Day assembly would have been particularly important this year.

“I know that that there is a lot of tension right now in our communities about the war in Israel,” the dad said, adding that “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.”

UNESCO’s “Day of Tolerance” occurs every year on November 16. The school assembly will be held a day earlier, on November 15.

According to the United Nations General Assembly, which first proclaimed the day in 1996, “tolerance is the sound foundation of any civil society and of peace.”

But the students will still learn about Veterans Day, a district spokesperson told KTTH. They will “watch videos about the sacrifices that veterans have made and make cards to thank veterans.”

That’s not the same as a school assembly, the father said.

“I remember three years ago, sitting next to a parent who had recently moved to America from Germany,” he recalled. “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.”

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

Melissa Fine


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