The New Oxford High School marching band of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, raised eyebrows with a celebration of the Russian Revolution – complete with red flags, military-style uniforms and giant hammers and sickles, Todd Starnes reported at Fox News on Monday.
According to Starnes, “St. Petersburg: 1917” is the band’s theme.
“Ironically,” Starnes added, “the school’s athletic teams are called the Colonials and their colors are red, white and blue.”
School officials said the performance was “not an endorsement of communism at all,” but parents were still upset.
“There is no reason for Americans to celebrate the Russian revolution,” one irate parent told Fox.
“I am sure the millions who died under Communism would not see the joy of celebrating the Russian revolution by a school 10 miles from Gettysburg,” the unidentified parent said.
“It was Glee meets the Russian Revolution,” he added. “I’m not kidding you. They had giant hammers and sickles and they were waving them around.”
“Who thought this was a good idea?” he asked.
But district superintendent Rebecca Harbaugh said the performance was “not an endorsement of communism,” but was rather “a representation of the time period in history called St. Petersburg 1917.”
“I am truly sorry that somebody took the performance in that manner. I am,” she said.
“If anything is being celebrated it’s the music,” she added. “It is what it is. I understand people look at something and choose how to interpret that and I’m just very sorry that it wasn’t looked at as just a history lesson.”
But Paul Kengor, executive director for the Center for Vision & Values at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College and author of “The Communist,” sees nothing to celebrate.
“The Bolshevik Revolution launched a global Communist revolution that from 1917 through the 1990s was responsible for the deaths of over a hundred million people…What the Russian revolution unleashed was a nightmare – a historical human catastrophe. This is something that should be condemned and not in any way commemorated or laughed at,” he said.
Initially, Kengor thought the halftime performance was a joke, Starnes added.
Gerson Moreno-Riano, dean of Regent University’s College of Arts & Sciences, said that either the “editors were simply ignorant” of the Soviet era, or someone “…is trying to celebrate something they know about – and they’re trying to insert this into their educational agenda.”
While some were offended by the performance, the Evening Sun reported that “the show didn’t seem to offend the judges of the Cavalcade of Bands Association Inc. show at Manheim Township High School on Saturday, where the band won first place, according to the band’s website.”
Starnes posted a picture he said showed members of the band holding the hammer and sickle. According to Starnes, the picture came from the band’s web site, but the picture has apparently been removed.
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