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Military uniform banned in schools?

September 24, 2008 4:03:13 PM PDT
Should schools bend the rules and let servicemen and women who come to speak wear their uniforms in this post-911 world? Duane and Eileen Longfellow of Doylestown beam with pride when they talk about their son, Duane Jr, who's a Lance Corporal in the Marines.

That's why they were deeply offended when their son, who was on leave at the time, was invited to speak at a Bucks County high school about his military experience, but was turned away because he arrived wearing his "dress blues."'

After Eileen told this story to other military families, and officials in Harrisburg, she was even more offended to learn this was not an isolated case.

"It's not about a school or a person, this is a problem that is occurring statewide. 17 senators say that it is happening in their districts," Eileen Longfellow said.

Now, those lawmakers are backing a bill introduced yesterday by Doylestown State Senator Chuck McIlhenney that would allow the state to slap a $500 fine on any school official who kicks a soldier or Marine off school property simply because he or she is wearing their military uniform.

Dr. Lisa Andrejko, Superintendent of Quakertown Schools, says she supports the proposed legislation, but understands how in the post-Columbine era, a school could err on the side of caution.

"It's not against the official United States Military, it's to say we don't want people affiliated with organizations that are not maybe gangs or, as I said, para-military organizations," Dr. Andrejko said.

Duane Longfellow Sr., whose brother was killed serving in Vietnam, says he simply hopes it never happens again.

"I think the servicemen, if anything else, they deserve our utmost respect and admiration," Duane Longfellow said.

The proposal is quickly gaining bipartisan support in Harrisburg, but still no word on if Governor Rendell backs it as well.

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