University of Florida and Emory University fraternity members visiting Panama City, Florida last weekend allegedly harassed wounded veterans in ways reminiscent of Vietnam War-era protests.
“They actually spit on me and my service dog as well. That’s just so disrespectful,” veteran Nicholas Connole told a local NBC affiliate Thursday.
Mr. Connole and other veterans were in town for its biannual Warrior Beach Retreat. Suspected fraternity members were also said to have poured beer on veterans and urinated on the American flag.
They’re a total disgrace for our military,” said Linda Cope, founder of Warrior Beach Retreat, the station reported. “They were urinating on the American flag. They were throwing things off of the balconies.”
The retreat was founded in September 2009, about three years after Cope’s son, Sgt. Joshua Cope, lost both legs in an explosion in Iraq, according to Warrior Beach Retreat website.
"We focus on the caregiver and strengthening marriages,” Cope said. “That’s our vision.”
The event brought together combat wounded veterans and included a parade on April 16 where between 8,000 and 10,000 people lined the streets.
|A weekend of patriotism led to a display of hatred|
Dave Kratzer — a retired U.S. Army major general, combat veteran and standing UF vice president of student affairs — wrote in a press release. “I am personally offended and disappointed by the behavior that has been described to me. This is not representative of our students or of the university.”
Three ZBT members have since been expelled from the UF chapter, according to a statement from Laurence Bolotin, executive director of the fraternity at large. Bolotin says the fraternity has contacted Warrior Beach Retreat and hopes to “work together in the future to support our nation’s brave veterans.”
The University of Florida suspended its Zeta Beta Tau chapter on April 24th on an interim basis pending an investigation.
So what has brought about the return to post-Vietnam attitudes? Perhaps something like this....
A university in southern Georgia canceled classes on Friday before a rally that drew about 1,000 demonstrators angry that an American flag was stepped on during a recent protest on campus.
Valdosta State University officials said no classes would be held and about 100 law enforcement officers were on campus during the event to ensure the safety of students and staff. The university, located about 15 miles from the Florida border, has drawn national attention after a cell phone video of an altercation at the April 17 rally was posted on the Internet.
"This is a home for free speech," said William McKinney, the university's president, at a news conference after the event, noting his pride that it had taken place peacefully. "This is what America is about, what it should be about."
Focal point in the protest was the arrest of a woman named Michelle Manhart, an Air Force veteran living in the area. Manhart took a flag from protesters to protect it. Manhart refused to return the flag, even after being ordered to do so by police. She was eventually detained by officers and has been banned from the campus, according to local media reports.
Flag defenders had been critical of the school president's response that freedom of speech must be upheld even if it includes disrespect to the flag. Critics launched their own protest movement called "Flags over VSU."
"We will not waiver in standing up for our nation, our flag and our soldiers", they retorted.
It would appear antics like the two mentioned offer a complete lack of accountability....from both students and educators. So, what, comes of it? Most likely, little if anything...but we can only hope.
Let's begin with some suspensions at the university.....not of the fraternity, but the students themselves. And for Mr. McKinley, the Valdosta State University President.....it's time for you to move on.
Perhaps I'm a little short-sighted with behavior of this kind. However, if you've had a son in the armed services, or served yourself......if you had a family member risk their life for our right to freedom, then you'll understand my next few words. If you don't like this country, then try somewhere else. See where that gets you....
1 Timothy 6 3-5
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth.