American Legion Post 134 in Morton Grove, Illinois has always contributed funding to several activities at the village’s parks, but that is a thing of the past, or for at least as long as Commissioner and atheist Dan Ashta its on the Park District board.
Commissioner Ashta’s ‘crime’ according to post Commander Joseph Lampert, is that he refuses to rise and recite a Pledge of Allegiance “under God.”
Lampert hypocritically states that, “On behalf of our post, it is with some regret that we fully respect the right of individuals to not stand during the pledge of allegiance. All veterans have been willing to lose their lives for that right, and many have. With that being said, while we support that right, we do not accept it.”
It would seem that Mr. Lampert did not fight for Mr. Ashta’s right to be free from religion or to be coerced into reciting a pledge with which he disagrees.
Contrary to what Commander Lampert thinks, he does not speak for all veterans. Most veterans actually do respect the right of others to disagree with them, and, in fact, fought for that right as well as the the right to agree with them. A true patriot does not demand that all must agree with him. That is not what this nation was founded on nor is it what the vast majority of veterans fought for.
For his part Commissioner Ashta says, “This section of the agenda says Pledge of Allegiance, and I feel like we’re compelling people to speak, so you either stand up and say it or you don’t, but either way you’re making a statement. If you come to the meeting, you don’t have a choice but to make a statement.”
He continues, “I’m not entirely sure it’s accurate to say this is a personal choice, but more of a duty. I have an obligation as an elected official to uphold the constitution. I have a sincere, serious relationship with the law. I study law and constitutional law is of particular interest to me. I think the Constitution is what makes this country great and worth making sacrifices for. Countries with weak constitutions usually don’t last.”
“It really saddens me when I hear people say that they think what I’m doing is disrespectful… I do appreciate the sacrifices people have made so that I can be here at this meeting. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. I have no objections to people who do stand for the pledge.”
It would seem that Commissioner Ashta owes no one an apology, it is not he who is being disrespectful.
You can see Commander Lampert’s announcement to the board in the video below.