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Letter: Patchogue parade float causes controversy

A actor dressed as Thomas Jefferson kneels at

A actor dressed as Thomas Jefferson kneels at a cross on a float during the Fourth of July Parade in Patchogue. Credit: YouTube

I'd like to clarify some points made in a letter by a retired history professor who objected to a large cross and figures representing our Founding Fathers sharing the same float in Patchogue's July Fourth parade ["'Nonsense' float mixes up founding," July 18]. The Patchogue Lions sponsor the parade each year with the support of the village and other organizations, but this particular float, which was mistakenly attributed to the Lions Club, did not belong to the club.

The Patchogue Lions Club would not endorse any particular religion, nor does it discriminate against any race, religion or nationality. All of the groups that build floats display things that represent who they are. This particular float was built by a local church. I don't believe it was the church's intention to force upon anyone its beliefs about religion or history, but merely to display a love of our country and celebrate Independence Day.

Dan King, Patchogue

Editor's note: The writer is president of the Patchogue Lions Club.

I take exception to the letter writer's remark that as an American, he was offended by this float. The float did nothing but depict an important time in history. It did not allude to any state religion. It certainly did not besmirch our national traditions, and the children on the sidelines saw a bit of history with no editorial comments.

H. Gilbert Balkam, Ronkonkoma

I was shocked by the letter that objected to a parade float that included the words "God Bless America."

Religion has been entwined with American history since Pilgrims fled religious persecution. The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, mentions the word "God" in the first sentence, and "Creator" in the second.

Our founders also took pains to establish the freedom of religion in the First Amendment. And one of the first actions of the newly formed U.S. Senate in New York in 1789 was to form a committee to seek out a chaplain.

Three of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution, two of whom were shot during their service. They fought for American values: freedom and tolerance.

It's disturbing that some people today want tolerance shown to them, but seem unwilling to extend it to others.

Leslie Dimmling, Garden City

I was a little taken aback by the criticism of the float. The Lions Club, which sponsored the parade but not the float, does a tremendous amount for charities. I feel the writer is more offended by the cross and the words "God Bless America" than the float's portrayal of our history.

Kevin J. Mullen, Holtsville