January 27, 2012

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Veterans’ group opposes West Point prayer breakfast speaker

WEST POINT – A group of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets has written to US Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David Huntoon expressing their concern and displeasure with the guest speaker scheduled for the West Point National Prayer Breakfast Service on February 8.

Lt. Gen. William Boykin (Ret.) has been invited to speak and the veterans’ group, called, said Boykin sends the wrong message about the American military. He has reportedly made disparaging remarks in the past about Islam and suggested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were religious wars waged by the US.

Group Chairman Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran, said it would send the wrong message to allow Boykin to speak at West Point.

“It’s dangerous for our cadets to hear this type of rhetoric”, Soltz said.  “It’s inconsistent with Army values; it’s inconsistent with what we’re teaching at the academies out in the field. It’s inconsistent with what we’re teaching on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and it can be used by the enemy to promote hate of American troops that are currently serving there and incite violence.  It essentially validates his past statements and undermines our troops in the field and its offensive to Muslims who currently serve in our military and Muslims who have died fighting for our country.”

But, West Point Public Affairs Director Lt. Col. Sherri Reed said the academy is “comfortable and confident” that what Boykin will share “about prayer, soldier care and selfless service, will be in keeping with the broad range of ideas normally considered by our cadets.”

Reed said the service will be “pluralistic with Christians, Jewish and Muslim cadets participating.”

In order to produce effective 21st century leaders for the US Army and the nation, “cadets are purposefully exposed to different perspectives and cultures over the course of their 47 month experience at West Point,” Reed said.


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