September 30, 2003

What in the Hell was he thinkin'?

OK, here is an interesting story:

Charles Grissom, director of the Paris High School band, said his intentions were true.

The Blue Blazes Band would perform a historically accurate show titled "Visions of World War II" featuring flags and music to represent the combating nations.

It would include a student running across the field with a Nazi flag and the tune composed by Franz Joseph Haydn that later became "Deutschland Uber Alles."

Mr. Grissom didn't anticipate the response his group received while performing at Hillcrest High School on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.

"We were booed," he said Monday. "We had things thrown at us. We were cursed."

Says the Band director:

Mr. Grissom, who is in his first year at Paris High, said an announcement was made over the loudspeakers before the performance, explaining that the school was trying to do a "historical, accurate depiction of the event."

Still, some fans were furious. Paris' assistant coaches were even targeted as they made their way through the bleachers to a press box after halftime.

"The assistant coaches ... got blasted, cursed," said Brent Southworth, Paris' head football coach. "It was undeserved from our perspective. We didn't know anything about it."

Mr. Grissom said he has learned his lesson. Henceforth, the band's show likely will include only the American flag, though all the music will remain.

"Our intent was never to cause any harm," Mr. Grissom said.

"The kids and myself, we caused a reaction, and we certainly didn't mean to. We'll use it as a learning situation."

The full story is on the Dallas Morning News site, but you will have to register to see it. To me, it is just another episode in PC overload. I mean, it happened folks. Do we just forget the evil in the world?

The show also includes the flags and music of France, Britain, Japan and the United States. The flags were raised in intervals that corresponded with the music of the nations. Mr. Grissom said the Nazi flag was waved twice – for about seven seconds each time – and the French and British flags were waved twice each for about the same amount of time. [emphasis supplied]

There was no reported reaction to displaying the Japanese flag. Is it just that the horrific memories of the Nazi regime are too intense for people to put in their proper perspective, or is it time that we just erased all reference to Nazis, Nazi Germany, Adolph Hitler, millions of Jews and others who were killed from history? I wish we could, but it happened and we should not take offense at every mention of such, especially when offense is not intended.

Nope, I think the uproar was a grand show of ignorance by those who were offended by such. Heck, it was a bunch of High School Band members.

Posted by notGeorge at September 30, 2003 11:58 AM

Sorry Tig, we're gonna have to disagree slightly on this one. (no, I'm not going PC on anyone...).

The key to the whole story, in my opinion, is that they ran this program on Rosh Hashana (sp?). That's kinda the wrong day to run the Nazi flag in the program.

Note they ran the same program previously without the boos (or if they happened, it never got publicized). I think it's just a case of very bad timing on the judgement of the band director, who I think probably didn't think about the date when putting the program together.

Posted by: Mark S. at September 30, 2003 06:23 PM

Perhaps they had no Chinese around to object to the Japanese flag:

I do agree with Mark that it might have been the (extremely) bad timing. Kind of like waving a flag with thirty pieces of silver at Easter.

Posted by: Kathy K at September 30, 2003 06:40 PM

Hey, I want to thank you for mentioning the fact that not just the Nazi flag was flown. Most of the articles I've been reading haven't mentioned the fact that the Japanese, French, and British flags were also flown.

The only reason this whole story even became nationwide is because people majorly over-exaggerated it. Most of the reporters that have written about this story have been twisting it and making it sound like the band director is totally stupid. Honestly, how many people would check and see if they were going to play a Jewish community on a Jewish holiday before putting the show together?

Yes, all of it was bad timing, and the audience from Hillcrest should have been mature about it and tried to understand that fact. Still, Paris High's superintendent immediately apologized to the Hillcrest superintendent. Despite that immediate apology, Paris High still hasn't received an apology from Hillcrest for their booing and cursing of the band members and coaches. It wasn't even the band's idea to have that show. It was the band director's. He was merely trying to put on an accurate depiction of a time in history. If he had left out the Nazi flag, or any of the other flags for that matter, it wouldn't have been accurate.

The whole story simply got blown WAY out of proportion and caused this big mess. I hope it all settles down and everyone forgets about the incident.

I do not attend Paris High, but I DO live in Paris. Trust me, none of the faculty from Paris ISD would ever do something to intentionally anger a group of people. I certainly hope that nothing this dumb ever happens to a high school marching band again.

Thanks again for writing a more accurate report of the situation. It is highly appreciated.

Posted by: Suzanne T. at October 5, 2003 04:29 PM