Glen Rock, NJ – Military veterans said they felt disrespected after a New Jersey school district opted not to participate in an annual American Legion coloring contest because school administrators didn’t approve of this year’s picture.
The coloring page is titled “The Four Pillars of the American Legion” and features soldiers in 1919, 1965, and 2019 military uniforms carrying guns appropriate for that period in history.
An unarmed nurse in a 1941 uniform is also featured, along with a banner honoring the centennial anniversary of the American Legion.
The picture also has a POW/MIA logo and a “battlefield cross,” which is a pair of boots with a rifle standing up and a helmet hanging off it. It is used to symbolize a soldier killed in the line of duty.
The New Jersey American Legion puts on the Americanism Award coloring contest for fourth and fifth grade students around the state ever year, according to the North Jersey Record.
But this year, Glen Rock Public Schools informed American Legion Post 145 that they felt the picture to be colored was “inappropriate” because of the guns in the image.
American Legion Post 145 Vice Commander Ken Frank said that Hamilton School had contacted the post and told them that unless they changed the image, their students wouldn’t be participating in the competition, the North Jersey Record reported.
“We are very upset, and we feel disrespected,” Frank said. “There wasn’t any reason given, and there hasn’t been another school in the state, that we’ve heard of, that’s refused to use the picture.”
Glen Rock Schools Superintendent Bruce Watson said it was a district-wide decision, the North Jersey Record reported.
Glen Rock Board of Education President Sharon Scarpelli said that the decision was made by the school administrators, who then informed the school board.
“The administration had asked if they could be provided with a different picture. They were concerned over the display of guns in the picture," Scarpelli explained in an email to the North Jersey Record.
New Jersey American Legion Adjutant John Baker said that Glen Rock is the first school district to voice any concern about the contest picture.
Baker said the American Legion has no plans to change the picture because they are a veterans’ organization and the objection is to a coloring page depicting military members in uniform, the North Jersey Record reported.