PUBLISHED:07:56 EST, 25 September 2012| UPDATED:08:12 EST, 25 September 2012
A Pennsylvania high school marching band has caused outrage by commemorating the Russian Revolution in a halftime performance – brandishing red flags, military uniforms, hammers and sickles.
Historians and parents of students at New Oxford High School have lambasted the choice of entertainment which remembers an event that gave way to Communism and the deaths of millions.
Even though the school’s colours are red, white and blue, they have adopted the theme of ‘St Petersburg: 1917’ for their halftime shows, including one last Friday, Fox News reported.
‘It was Glee meets the Russian Revolution,’ a concerned parent told Fox. ‘They had giant hammers and sickles and they were waving them around.
‘There is no reason for Americans to celebrate the Russian revolution. I am sure the millions who died under Communism would not see the joy of celebrating the Russian revolution by a school 10 miles from Gettysburg.’
Paul Kengor, the executive director for the Center for Vision & Values at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College, added that he originally thought the performance was a joke.
‘This is surreal,’ he said. ‘The Bolshevik Revolution launched a global Communist revolution that from 1917 through the 1990s was responsible for the deaths of over a hundred million people.
‘What the Russian revolution unleashed was a nightmare – a historical human catastrophe. This is something that should be condemned and not in any way commemorated or laughed at.’
‘I am sure the millions who died under Communism would not see the joy of celebrating the Russian revolution by a school 10 miles from Gettysburg’
Gerson Moreno-Riano, dean of Regent University’s College of Arts & Sciences, added that there is little to celebrate about one of the most violent periods in history that saw power snatched from the monarchy and seized by the revolutionaries.
‘It’s full of violence, terror, destruction and in some weeks thousands of people were executed – some thrown with rocks around their necks into the river to drown,’ he said.
‘It’s quite frankly horrific that a high school would be celebrating that at a football game. To raise the emblems of the hammer and sickle – the emblems of so much violence, destruction and terror – is a lack of knowledge of history.’
Rebecca Harbaugh, the superintendent for the Conewago Valley School District, insisted that the performance had not been an endorsement of the regime.
‘It’s a representation of the time period in history called St. Petersburg 1917,’ she said. ‘I am truly sorry that somebody took the performance in that manner. I am.’
She added that it was the music that was being celebrated and was sorry it was not viewed as a history lesson.
And while some were upset by the performance, the Evening Sun reported that the show didn’t seem to offend the judges of the Cavalcade of Bands Association Inc. show at Manheim Township High School on Saturday, where the band won first place, according to the band’s website.
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