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Vets React To Threats Against Board Members



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A change in the Pledge of Allegiance Policy in Sioux Falls Schools has led to school board members receiving death threats. For some, the upset is fueled by the idea that the board’s decision disrespects veterans. But has it all gone too far?

Commander Ken Teunissen, of American Legion Post 15 said veterans are upset about the board's decision, but he said what's happened since the vote is wrong. Teunissen said the threats have taken things way too far.

"The death threats and the hate emails, and the hate letters, and the hate phone calls, that's uncalled for," Teunissen said.
    
Teunissen is a Vietnam veteran, recipient of a Purple Heart, and a part of numerous veteran groups in the area. He said he too doesn't agree with the Sioux Falls School Board's decision, but said no one deserves this type of treatment.

"It’s not doing anybody and any good and its definitely not showing the veterans their respect," Teunissen said.
   
On Nov. 12, the school board unanimously voted to change the district's 'Flag Displays and Patriotic Activity' policy to mirror what has already been practiced in schools. Elementary school students have always been required to say the Pledge of Allegiance daily. Middle school students, did, but weren't required too, until now. Teunissen said all veterans want is for the board to expand the policy to include high schools.

"We have veterans all over this state, all over the nation, and all over the world that have given a lot of time, more than ten seconds,” Teunissen said.

Board members said high schools can't fit anything else into their schedules. Teunissen said it’s a small amount of time vets will fight to get into the school day. But the fight they will put up he said, will be honorable, and respectful.

"(The threats are not) supporting those veterans that have honorably served, honorably gave, and for those who gave their life, there's no respect when you threaten someone with their life," Teunissen explained.

Teunissen said at the next school board meeting, a number of veterans will be present. He said they will formally tell board members the threats have not come from veterans.

Some veterans have submitted letters to the board requesting them to change the policy. A few will be speaking at the meeting to plead their case again.
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