Veterans visiting schools: What would Northfield do?

In last week’s Strib: Forest Lake school closes doors to vets, so students go to them.

vets for freedom logo The National Heroes Tour, featuring decorated troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan talking about their military experiences, was supposed to address about 150 social studies students at the high school… The event, according to an announcement posted recently on the school’s website, was structured to be an academic classroom discussion around military service. “We thought we’d provide an opportunity for kids to learn about service in the context of our history classes,” school leaders said on the website. Because of the possibility of protesters, Principal Steve Massey said he grew concerned that the event was in danger of becoming a political event instead of an educational experience, and was no longer suitable for a public school.

It made me wonder what Northfield High School administrators would do if a social studies teacher asked this group of vets (National Heroes Tour) to present to students at the High School.


  1. Anne Bretts said:

    Vets for Freedom called a press conference at the school, which flew in the face of their agreement to have a nonpolitical classroom discussion. The organization, which has a strong political stance, had promised to leave it at the door, so to speak.
    Sad that the principal got flak for doing his job, which is keeping the kids from being used as political pawns.

    March 30, 2008
  2. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Thanks, Anne, for clarifying. If “Veterans Against the War” had also been invited, there might have been a balanced presentation. A bit hard to manage, though, in a school setting.

    I wonder what former teacher Ron Nuebel would have to say about this.

    April 1, 2008
  3. “Because of the possibility of protesters, Principal Steve Massey said he grew concerned that the event was in danger of becoming a political event instead of an educational experience, and was no longer suitable for a public school.”

    All I can say is that it is starting to look like this country is going possibility mad.

    April 1, 2008
  4. John S. Thomas said:

    I know for a fact, that many parents of students that are Veterans of the Iraq war, have visited local classrooms in our community.

    I am a Veteran, and DAMN proud of my service.

    I also believe that this war was not the right thing to do.

    I do however believe that the school principal made the right call here. It is about stability of the school and not interrupting or impacting learning.

    A recent example of a bad call was the recent visit of the Twins Caravan. What a fiasco that was.

    April 1, 2008
  5. I would like to thank you, John T. Thomas for your service, and all the service men and women alive today and tomorrow and yesterday.

    Although I do not like war, I know no one does. I respect the people who
    are warriors, defenders of the faith, the peace, the prosperity and all reasons
    for going to war. Soldiers are an integral part of life, just as any other profession and they will be until we all rise up out of the matter of life.

    April 1, 2008
  6. Paul Fried said:

    Stephanie’s suggestion about a balanced presentation, along with Veterans for Peace, seems a reasonable and fair suggestion. Few people know that Vets for Freedom is not just a volunteer, grass-roots, non-partisan group, but an astroturf political group (so named because astroturf is artificial grass, and Vets for Peace, like Freedom’s Watch, pretend to be grass-roots groups, but are partisan groups that don’t reveal their funding sources, and take a very specific stand) in favor of staying the course in Iraq.

    We are living in a unique time in history: Never before have so many retired generals and admirals been critical of a presidential administration’s conduct of a war that was still in progress. It didn’t happen anywhere near this extent during Vietnam, didn’t happen with the Civil War, even when indecisive George B. McClellan was the main general critical of Lincoln, and ran for president against him (when Lincoln won a second term). We now have many generals who were serving in the military at the time the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq began, who are now critical of Bush and the conduct of the war as a huge, dangerous failure. Bush and Cheney also got rid of Admiral Fallon, head of Centcom, recently, and we may have either a US or Israeli bombing of Iran, either before the election, or before Bush-Cheney leave office (against the logic of the national intelligence estimate). If Israel starts it, we may be drawn in.

    So if Vets for Freedom, a partisan group in favor of continuing the war in Iraq as long as needed, offers to give a presentation in the high school, how should we respond?

    If some parents and their children are in favor of more war, should we make it an AFTER-school option for those who really want to fight and die, if necessary (or if not necessary, in wars of aggression)? Should we impose a tyranny of the majority, and have the liberals keep the group out, even as an optional, after-school program? If some are so strong in their belief that, in order for those who have died or been wounded so far, not to have died or been wounded in vain, we need to keep the war going and keep sending our children into harm’s way (we’ll liberate Iraq if we have to kill every last Iraqi?), then who are we to restrict their rights?

    April 2, 2008
  7. kiffi summa said:

    Wouldn’t the most “enlightened” response to this issue be, let all groups speak and let the kids make up their minds; or let no groups speak and charge the kids with their own investigation and debate in assembly.

    Personally, I prefer the second approach, but then it is well known that I prefer individual responsibility to one’s POV.

    April 2, 2008

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