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Patriotism Defined in 1919 School Directors Meeting
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2024-02-21

            Over the past few years controversies between school administrators have led to arguments at public meetings and placing keyboard critics at loggerheads with each other on social media.  It seems that some arguments imply that religion interferes with education or that education interferes with religion.  Many times concepts and opinions

Rev. George Lutz was the pastor of the Pennsburg Reformed

Church and a Pennsburg School Director in 1919. 

are disguised so we don't know exactly what the argument is.

            This difference of opinion is nothing new.  One of the more infamous arguments in Montgomery County took place in February 1919 at the 59th meeting of the County's School Directors Association.

            Norristown created the first public school in the county in 1836 according to the Historical Society of Montgomery County.  But, most other municipalities didn't get on board with public schools until after 1850.  Until then, most schools were run by churches.

            The pain from the "War to end all wars" (although it didn't) was still with many citizens and patriotism was at the forefront as soldiers were still returning home from it.  Some local soldiers never came home.

            At the Feb. 19 school directors meeting, Squire Milton Waters, of Upper

Liberty loans raised $22 billion to finance World War I (the

equivalent of more than $5 trillion today.) At least a third of

Americans 18 or older bought bonds.

Salford Township, voiced his disapproval of how patriotism was taught in public schools.   Waters was a respected former Pennsylvania legislator and current president of the Upper Salford School Board.

            Other speakers before him had offered their views on the teaching of patriotism as a virtue to students.  At the onset of Waters' discourse, he read from a series of articles published and circulated by a noted pacifist whose main argument was the war was a violation of the Sixth Commandment – Thou shalt not kill–and was an abuse of the power inherited from God.   He also felt that the salute to the flag was a mockery and the singing of songs and hymns a travesty on that which should be holy.

            He added that the time devoted to patriotism is time idly spent and the hailing of war heroes is an insult to a true Christian.  Many directors gave applause to Waters' words.

            Rev. George Lutz, Pennsburg School Director and Pastor of Pennsburg Reformed Church, wasn't quite so sure of Water's conclusions.  He offered that, in the past, he had what he thought was a good understanding of patriotism.  He added that he was given a new vision of what the word meant and what it stood for and represented when he canvassed the Upper Perkiomen Valley during the days of the Liberty Loans and other campaigns during the war. 

            He witnessed how local people had given until it hurt.  These people had made sacrifices that indicated a sincere and honest appreciation of the life they were permitted to enjoy. 

            He said, "They stood ready, even now, should such an emergency arise, to even make greater sacrifices."  Lutz felt that it was evident that "patriotism was more than an institution; it was the very life itself of a nation."       Lutz concluded, "In the present hour of need, with the spirit of disloyalty and unrest seeking to destroy that which our forefathers have built up with their lives …" he was confident that the response from patriots will be even more marked than during the war when the call for loyalty and sacrifice comes to our door.

            This wasn't an action item to be voted on, just two differing opinions shared at a public meeting.  After the two men spoke their words, the meeting continued.


 

 

 

 

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