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21-gun salute in Stroudsburg, Pa. canceled because it violates ordinance

The honor guard for the American Legion Federal Post No. 19 performs a 21-gun salute during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Yuma, Ariz., May 26, 2014.

U.S. MARINES

By LYNN ONDRUSEK | Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa. | Published: May 21, 2015

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — A Memorial Day weekend ceremony at Courthouse Square won't include a 21-gun salute because it violates the Stroudsburg Borough code.

Sunday's dedication for Civil War soldiers killed in action originally included the salute, which would fire blanks, but Borough Manager Cathie Thomas said the ordinance is clear.

According to the borough code, it is unlawful for any person to use, fire or discharge any gun or other firearm within the borough. The ordinance was enacted Dec. 19, 1983, according to the code.

Stroudsburg Borough Council member Boyd Weiss said the 21-gun salute is a practice that has taken place in the borough for most of his life.

Weiss said he understands why the ordinance is in place, but he thought an exception could be made because the salute was customary at similar events in the past. 

“I couldn’t understand that,” he said. “My entire life we’ve had gun salutes on Veterans Days or in celebration of veterans.”

Weiss said that the ordinance, as it is written now, could also have an effect on those wanting to do a full military funeral in the cemetery, since it lies within the borough. And it could apply to other instances where a 21-gun salute would be desired, he said.

Thomas said the 21-gun salute raised a question for her, and she consulted the borough solicitor.

“It was clear that it was for the ceremony and there were blanks being used,” she said. “But again, he looked at the simple, clear wording (of the ordinance).”

Thomas said she suspects there could be an amendment made to the code since the question has been raised.

Weiss said he would support an amendment to make the matter clear. But he thinks the matter should’ve been addressed before borough council before being shot down.

He said he has talked to other council members on the subject as well, adding that they said it was the "most ridiculous thing they had ever heard."

“No one, up to this point, has ever objected to (the salutes),” he said.

The ceremony is from 1 to 1:45 p.m. and is being hosted by the Monroe County Commissioners and the Monroe County Historical Association. 

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