A Pennsylvania high school marching band has presented one of those teachable moments liberty lovers would be crazy not to make the most of.
New Oxford High School is about ten miles from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania but during a Friday evening halftime show their band transported football fans back to St. Petersburg, Russia 1917.
The musicians donned olive military uniforms and waved hammers, sickles and red flags in the air commemorating the Bolshevik Revolution. A few outraged parents who still remember their world history were in shock by what they saw. Conewago Valley School District Superintendent Rebecca Harbaugh told Fox reporters it was supposed to be a celebration of Shostakovich, "not an endorsement of communism at all."
"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."
"If anything is being celebrated it's the music," she said. "It is what it is. I understand people look at something and choose how to interpret that and I'm just very sorry that it wasn't looked at as just a history lesson."
Dr. Harbaugh as well as the school's music director, Tim Rohrbaugh who was in charge of the students' tribute to Lenin's and Trotsky's ruthless, bloody takeover of what was then Petrograd, has given us a perfect opportunity to discuss the first communists.
Lenin and Trotsky, along with their associates, plundered, burned landowners' homes, committed robberies, rapes and murders soon after coming to power. The Bolsheviks won only 25 percent of the vote in the November 1917 parliamentary elections, but it was to be the tyranny of the minority over the majority as they set up their own government though terror.
With the help of a fanatic criminal, Felix Dzerzhinsky, whom Lenin called "The Thunderbolt against the Bourgeoisie," the Bolsheviks initiated a secret service specifically organized to arrest and execute opponents of the new regime.
Petrograd (St. Petersburg) soon became a hotbed of activity between the majority of people who hated the Bolsheviks and the ruthless killers. In 1918 Lenin and Dzerzhinsky's 15-member board of thugs moved to Moscow to escape their enemies and hide behind the walls of the Kremlin.
By 1919 the reign of terror spread over Russia. The first gulags appeared when the prisons became overcrowded. Thousands upon thousands of scientists, engineers and other "exploiters" were murdered. Half the country's doctors were executed or forced into exile.
After an attempt on Lenin's life an official of the secret service or Cheka declared, "any person who is arrested with a gun in his hands, without the corresponding permission and identification, is subject to immediate execution, and any person who dares to talk against the Soviet power will be immediately arrested and put in a concentration camp."
On the orders of the people's Commissar of War, Leon Trotsky, tens of thousands of military personnel and enemies of the State were shot within the first year of communist rule. The Cheka's use of force prevented any outside authorities from seriously challenging their methods. The Cheka acted as Lenin's and Trotsky's instrument of terror helping them to fundamentally transform Russia into the U.S.S.R.
While a few people are calling for firings over The New Oxford High School band's celebration of communism, others are wondering what Rohrbaugh was thinking putting this together. The hammer and sickle show even won first place the next day at a Cavalcade of Bands contest. The Cavalcade of Bands Association is a non-profit organization that boasts "education through musical involvement."
So is there an agenda here? A history professor interviewed by Fox News stated the best case scenario is school personnel's ignorance of the horrific violence that ensued from the 1917 revolution or it could be "someone who is trying to celebrate something they know about - and they're trying to insert this into their educational agenda."
Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report