Sign Outside Oswego Village Hall Questioned
Jul 07, 2016 06:57PM ● Published by Steven Jack
If you've seen the large sign outside Oswego Village Hall that proclaims "Bless the USA," you might have done a double take.
The sign, which has appeared outside Village Hall around the Fourth of July holiday for the past two years, has drawn the ire of several local residents who say the missing "God" from this traditional American saying is offensive.
"Political correctness has made its way to Oswego," said John Morack on the Only Oswego Facebook page. "Who are you going to offend?"
According to Village President Gail Johnson, the sign was a gift to the village from Oswego's Temple Display, which is a business that fabricates and sells large-scale commercial holiday displays.
The sign was made for a Temple Display client that never paid for it. The company then donated the sign to the village as is. The sign never included the word God nor was it removed, Johnson said.
"The village did not censor the word God from this sign," she said. "It is merely to represent a respectful blessing of our country."
Joe Toma, who is a veteran of the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam, said he was "shocked" when he saw the sign.
"Whether it was done intentionally or inadvertently doesn't really matter," he said. "It's the perception."
Toma said he's heard from dozens of local residents upset about the sign, and he's encouraging them all to contact local officials to voice their opinions. He also said he feels like the issue may cast a shadow over Oswego's hosting of the Moving Vietnam Wall in 2017.
"I mean people are going to be standing there saying the Pledge of Allegiance, are they gong to take God out of that? How will that honor the 58,209 soldiers who died for our country?"
Johnson said the village received one complaint last year about the sign. That number has increased this year to a "few" phone calls to Village Hall, she said.
"For those that feel offended by this sign, I'm truly sorry," Johnson said. "I can assure it is not meant to offend anyone. This is a simple blessing. Oswego has residents of many different religions and backgrounds, and I was elected to serve them all to the best of my ability and that's what I'll continue to do."