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Letter: 'Nonsense' float mixes up founding

United States Marine Corp. Marching in annual Port

United States Marine Corp. Marching in annual Port Jefferson Fourth of July Parade. #li4th #PortJeff Photo Credit: Twitter / Andrew Tetreault

I attended an Independence Day Parade put on by the Village of Patchogue with bands, floats and antique cars ["Having a blast," exploreLI, July 2]. It was indeed enjoyable.

One float, however, was disturbing. It was from the Patchogue Lions Club and had a "1776" theme. There was a Thomas Jefferson figure dressed in Colonial garb with a quill pen writing at a desk, as well as several other Founding Fathers standing and talking, presumably at the Constitutional Convention. And then there was a Benjamin Franklin figure standing next to a 7-foot-tall cross emblazoned with a large caption, "God Bless America." The sides of the float also had crosses with the same caption -- seemingly so we wouldn't miss the message.

As an American, I'm offended. The float implied that there is a state religion. This is a gross misreading of history. Our Founding Fathers believed religion to be a private matter and state religion abhorrent. America would be a country with no established religion. Indeed, Americans had fled those kinds of repressive regimes for freedom of religion here and declared it with our most precious document: a First Amendment guarantee.

We need to stop these displays of nonsense history. They teach our children nothing and they denigrate our national traditions.

Bill Bernstein, Huntington Station

Editor's note: The writer is a retired history professor from SUNY Canton.

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