CA School District Pulls Out of Navy SEALs and Sailors’ Funerals–But Politics Had Nothing to Do with It

In Coronado, California — an island off of San Diego — thousands of people, press outlets, and military personnel gather in honor of fallen Navy SEALs and sailors as their funeral processions make their way down the island.

Since 2010, the processions evolved from a simple turnout of patriotic locals to organized “mass media affairs,” according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Kena Betancur

However, on Thursday, the Union-Tribune reported that the Coronado Unified School District will no longer participate in the funeral processions — restricting thousands of students’ ability to take part in the memorials.

Although at first glance the news may seem like a slap in the face to so many fallen Navy heroes’ families, it’s actually for the benefit of military families with members still on active duty.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Joe McNally

Coronado City Manager Blair King told the Union-Tribune [emphasis added]:

“Our concern is communicating that with the public. We’re no less supportive than we ever have been, but we just can’t keep continue to have these types of processions.

Everyone’s heart was in the right place. We’re just saying that pragmatically — from our standpoint worrying about the safety of the community, and the school district worrying about the safety and the psyches of their students — we had to come up with a different plan.”

It became abundantly clear that following each funeral procession, hundreds of students grew uneasy, worrying about the safety of their loved one serving in the military.

In fact, school district superintendent Karl Mueller told the Union-Tribune that Coronado schools had an insufficient number of counselors available to students — both prior to and following the funeral processions — who needed emotional assistance from feeling overwhelmed about their loved ones’ safety during deployment.

Sandra DeMunnik, spokeswoman for Navy Base Coronado, told the Union-Tribune:

“The practice started from a good place, but when we learned that young students were being traumatized by these events we wanted to show the city and school district that we could enjoy the same level of patriotism through other programs.”

Image Credit: Getty Images/Sandy Huffaker

And unfortunately, local officials are unable to simply minimize the scale of the processions. King said because the funerals are being covered by national news, it would be impossible to screen who can and cannot attend:

“In terms of a target, we’re publicizing a SEAL military funeral and that information is being picked up by national news outlets. We can’t control who comes here.”

The Union-Tribune reported that out of the entire student population of the Coronado district, more than a third have parents in the military.

Mueller told the Union-Tribune that due to the military-affiliated student population, the attendance to the processions neared 2,000 students plus thousands of public citizens, and they became unsustainable:

“It became clear to me, after my conversations with officials from the City of Coronado, that ensuring security and safety for all of our students and the residents of Coronado throughout the procession was an incredibly difficult task for our Coronado Police Department.”

Image Credit: Getty Images/Sandy Huffaker

But King reassured the public that the Coronado Unified School District’s support for the military, fallen and living, is still just as paramount as ever:

“We’re as patriotic as ever and will continue to be as patriotic as ever, and we’ll still encourage individual citizens to do whatever they feel right to do. We’re going to get our big ladder truck and fly the flag off of that, but we expect it to be a direct route and it will go back to what it was in 2010 and 2011 — much lower key and indigenous to Coronado.”

Although the news is sure to disappoint many families of the fallen, not only from Coronado but all over the United States, it’s clear that the school district’s decision was out of sheer concern for its students — something most Americans can get behind.

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