Nationally Recognized Veterans' Advocate Removed from High School Ceremony for Being Conservative
The Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District in Massachusetts worked with their local VFW chapter to dedicate a newly constructed foyer to alumni who were killed in combat while serving in the armed forces. A dedication ceremony scheduled for May 21 will highlight veterans and their sacrifices for their nation and their community. Kyle Reyes, an alumnus of the school, was scheduled as the keynote speaker. Now, the superintendent has removed Reyes from the program. The reason? Reyes is an unapologetic Christian conservative.
Reyes is a public speaker, runs a marketing firm, and has been named the national spokesman for Law Enforcement Today. He is passionate about supporting veterans and first responders, having created over 160 episodes of Behind The Uniforms. Reyes uses this video series to highlight the men and women who serve in the armed forces and first responders, giving them a spotlight and the opportunity to tell their stories.
Imagine his surprise when he got the news he's been branded an anti-gay bigot.
The school superintendent thinks Reyes would make the students feel unsafe. That’s the message delivered to Reyes, anyway.
In a Facebook post, Reyes writes,
When I was chosen to be the Master of Ceremonies and Keynote speaker at an event honoring these fallen alumni at my alma mater of Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District, I was honored. The VFW Post 872 invited me because of the work we do in the veteran and law enforcement communities. It never was and never would have been about politics. The fact that the VFW was forced by the superintendent to un-invite me because I'm a Conservative spits on the graves of these veterans who fought for a country of FREEDOM.
I was going to talk about how on 9/11, I sat in that high school and watched the Twin Towers fall. That day changed the course of my future and that of so many others. Many of the men and women I'm proud to call friends and family went on to serve our country after that day. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice. Many continue to make sacrifices, having to spend a lifetime dealing with PTS, missing limbs and other combat related injuries.
In an interview with PJ Media, Reyes says that the school superintendent refused to talk to him, but told the head of the VFW in no uncertain terms why Reyes was not welcome at the ceremony. "So the head of the VFW was specifically told that I was uninvited because the students would feel unsafe around me because I'm conservative," Reyes said, adding that the Second Amendment "had nothing to do with it."
"The only thing that was mentioned in passing, and it was completely unquantified, was the conservative stances on homosexuality. Nobody said anything to me. It's pretty funny, because I could care less who you sleep with," he said.
Reyes says that this decision came from only one person – the superintendent. "The head of the VFW made it very clear that this was not going to be a political speech, and she [the superintendent] said, ‘I don't care, students wouldn't feel safe around it.’ That's the view of the superintendent, not the students," he said, adding that the superintendent "never had a conversation with me, never returned any of my calls. Every media outlet that I've spoken with said that they've tried repeatedly to get in touch with her."
Reyes says the decision has caused an unnecessary distraction from the dedication ceremony and it was never about him in the first place—it was about the veterans. Still, he's encouraging people to attend the ceremony.
"Take part, don't boycott, don't take away from the sanctity of the ceremony," he said. "The VFW was ripped, so they've invited me to be their keynote speaker now at a pre-awards ceremony which is going to be at their VFW hall on May 12. It was not going to be open to the community, it was only for the VFW and donors, but they had such an outcry that they said we're going to open it up to the entire community after the formal dinner."
"We were all on the same page," he said. "There was nothing in the speech that was going to be political. It was going to be 100% about how I sat there in that high school on September 11. I watched those towers fall and it changed the course of a lot of lives.”
The entire point of the planned speech, according to Reyes, was that service and sacrifice are what bind us together as a nation. Now, ironically enough, he’s been excluded from delivering a message of national unity. He emphasized that there was going to be nothing political in his speech. "The students who would have been sitting in that auditorium watching me and watching the ceremony have no memory of September 11," he explained. "They weren't born yet. So that's it, nothing political about it. People were like, 'you're making this political.' No, I'm not, but I am drawing attention to the hypocrisy of what's happening all across America. We owe it to the memory of these fallen heroes to continue the fight that they were fighting, just in our own ways."
Typically, when a successful alumnus of a high school wants to come speak to the students, the administration views that as a win for their program. That is, unless that successful alum is conservative. Then it’s a black eye for the school. At least, that’s what the superintendent apparently feels and people have good reason for outrage, it seems.
Nonetheless, Reyes reiterated his plea that people attend the ceremony anyway to honor the fallen heroes from his high school. "It's very important to me that people know that I do not want the ceremony boycotted. I do not want people picketing it. Now, obviously I can't control that. People are pissed. People are really pissed. Things have gotten really ugly," he said. "It's funny, because a lot of people who hate me because they're super liberal and I'm not, have come out and supported me on this. I've gotten messages from people who blocked me on Facebook years ago, saying, ‘I disagree with 90% of what you say but I'm totally behind you on this.’"
Reyes states repeatedly that he never wanted this to become a public fight, but he believes he no longer has a choice. He concludes his Facebook post by writing,
I'm not a hero. I'm not the focus of this. I'm simply a patriot standing up to declare that enough is enough.
Please make sure these faces are never forgotten. They died for you. They died for me. And they died for our ability to speak freely.
1LT Travis J. Fuller
Class of 1997
Graduated Massachusetts Maritime Academy 2001
Commissioned 2LT in the Marine Corps the same year
Killed in Action 2005
Ar Rutbah, Iraq
Parents are David & Joanne Fuller. Sisters Rebecca and Jennifer.
CPL Steven B. Wentworth
Class of 1981
Joined the Marine Corps the same year
Killed in Action, October 23, 1983
Beirut Lebanon Bombings
Parents are Elaine Achenbach & the late Bruce Wentworth
PFC William R. Alamed
Class of 1966
Drafted into the U.S. Army 1969
Killed in Action March 10, 1970
Thua Thien, Vietnam
God bless these men. God bless their families. God bless AMERICA.
It's time to fight.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the forthcoming book, Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy, due out Fall 2018. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @ChargerJeff.