For more than 80 years, a local Wisconsin school district had hosted a Veterans Day program to honor former soldiers, featuring a traditional 21-gun salute. But after reports earlier this year of parents and students feeling "uneasy" about the firing of guns on school grounds — even with blank rounds, as is customary in the 21-gun salute — the Eau Claire School District canceled the program.
The decision was made in late October, with school district official Tim Liebham saying "the shooting of guns [on school premises], even with blanks, is something we don't feel is appropriate given society." Liebham also said it was only one program in particular that was a problem, and the district felt "the needs of our children in our schools... would outweigh the 21-gun salute."
Kaye Olsen, vice president of the Eau Claire Patriotic Council, which organizes the program, said she hoped to reach a compromise with the school district, but that none could be reached to accommodate the weapons. "It's really hard to tell the veterans they're not allowed to bring those rifles in," she said, especially because "the only purpose is to honor our flag and our country and teach the kids."
Because a 21-gun salute could not be held on school property, the Patriotic Council's program was moved to a nearby Burger King parking lot, where it was scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. local time — complete with a 21-gun salute at 11 a.m.