Disagreement over firearms leads to Veterans Day controversy

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- For the first year, a local veterans group will not be holding a Veterans Day program at the Eau Claire area school district, the decision was because of a disagreement over firearms.

The Patriotic Council says it will not be able to teach younger generations about the sacrifices veterans have made this year because the organization isn't able to properly do so.

There are several different reasons cited, but one of the main concerns focuses around firearms on school grounds.

Vice President of the Patriotic Council, Kaye Olsen says, “Now as the last few years have gone on, with the school shootings and everything, it's getting harder to do our veterans programs like we want to.”

Olsen says with the recent school shootings, guns on school grounds have become an issue, but that also means hurting what she says is a meaningful tradition.

“It's really hard to tell the veterans they're not allowed to bring those rifles in,” says Olsen. “Which, the only purpose is, to honor our flag and our country and to teach the kids.”

The Eau Claire school district says while it wishes to honor the memory and sacrifice of veterans on Veterans Day, it's become more difficult to do so.

"We like to honor the veterans; we bring them in on a regular basis,” says Tim Libham, the Executive Director of Administration with the district. “There are just some conditions that we have to adhere to and the shooting of guns, even with blanks, is something we don't feel is appropriate given society, and the concerns that we have and that the community has, on school premises.”

Leibham says the district wants to accommodate the programs but has to keep the well-being of the students and their families in mind as well

Leibham says, “We'd had family and students that were uneasy, even with blanks being fired on school premise.”

But, Olsen says when it comes to firing the 21-gun salute during the program, there shouldn't be limitations. She says, “I was hoping maybe we could find a compromise, but when it comes to the weapons, there was no compromise.”

Olsen says the Patriotic Council will hold a Veterans Day program at the west side Burger King instead of at an area school on Veterans Day

She says there will be a wreath laying, taps and a 21-gun salute starting around 10:30am.