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May 2, 2011 - 2:00pm

Sign makers thought message was 'traditional and patriotic'

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Upton Monument.

As Victor Thomas, 26, and three of his buddies watched the news of Osama bin Laden's death last night and saw the celebrations in Washington, D.C., and New York, they wanted to be part of something in Batavia.

So they jumped in a car and drove downtown.

"The City of Batavia was dead," Thomas said. "Not one person was out. Nobody was honking horns or celebrating."

So, Thomas, along with his cousin Christopher Thomas, 26, Ordy Edwards, 26, and Jason Armison, 24, decided to drive to the only place open to buy sign materials -- Walmart -- and get a board and some paint and fix up a sign.

They made a red, white and blue sign and painted on it, "Osama Got Obama'd."

He said they then mused for about 20 minutes on where to place the sign. They thought about putting it in front of the courthouse to represent justice, but then they did a little research on Emery Upson and discovered one of his specialities as a general was tactics in invading enemy territory. That made the Upson Monument, they thought, the perfect place to commemorate Osama's sudden demise in a protected compound in Pakistan.

Now they're a little upset that county workers took the sign down -- Christopher Thomas happened to be driving by at the time and retrieved the sign -- and are planning a rally at 4 p.m. in front of the Post Office.

Victor said anybody wanting to show support for freedom of speech or the United States should attend.

Thomas has seen the comments on The Batavian and is surprised that some have taken the sign as a partisan political statement.

"There was no thought about politics," Thomas said. "They both have O's, Osama and Obama. We didn't take it in a political way. He's our president and every soldier fighting is marching to his orders. They (some readers) took it as political and we just were trying to be traditional or patriotic."

He said he was worried the sign would be taken down, but was hoping it would stay up today so people could drive by and honk their horns, "just to give some kind of recognition to what happened on 9/11 and what our troops are doing."

Photo courtesy WBTA.

Bob Rathenburgh
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I dont see the big deal in the sign. I saw it and didnt think politically about it. But some how everyone has to turn everything into politics. Its a shame! Ill be there to show my support not only for this sign but for us as american's who practice our freedom of speech peacefully and would like to be able to keep it and not have it taken away like most other things in life! Maybe i should make a sign too (kidding) Good job with the sign boys!
Mike Kelly
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For more inf. and islamic reaction to bin laden's death go to weaselzippers.us (CAUTION: Not a liberal website)
mark jackett
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MY MESSAGE EARLIER WAS NOT INTINDED FOR YOU,IT WAS FOR THE NONE AMERICANS AT THE COUNTY OFFICE all they think about is politics and how to upset money paying AMERICANS we pay the taxes and there overpaid salary to sit around and make rules and regulations for everyone else. FIRE ALL THE ASSES!
Jim Moore
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Hurray for Victor Thomas and his 3 friends --- and shame on those who would try to put a negative spin of any kind on their efforts. The sign put a smile on my face this morning and made me feel good to be an American, and I didn't even have to question their wording, placement of the sign, or even the font they used! Why are we often so anxious to make ourselves more important than giving credit to others who deserve it? Congrats to Victor and friends -- you did a good thing!
Gabor Deutsch
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I am assuming that there is a law about posting a sign on public property. I enjoyed the sign but if you let one person do it then everyone should be allowed to do it. I do not believe that the sign being removed was unpatriotic at all.
Lisa Falkowski
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I agree - no big deal on the sign. If there is an issue w/signage w/o permission - considering the circumstance, you couldn't let this go? Come on.
Howard B. Owens
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Gabor, there is a law. It's call the First Amendment.
Lorie Longhany
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Imagine how people would have reacted if the county government in lower Manhatten started removing the scores of messages that were left around ground zero. As a country we should be able to express ourselves in our public spaces when something as historical as this takes place. County government blows it again.
Jason Tucker
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Yes, the First Amendment is a wonderful thing, but it's not quite as powerful as people sometimes like to think. For instance, it does not permit me to go to my neighbor's house and staple a sign to his forehead. Nor does it allow me to gather 1,000 of my closest friends and have an impromptu parade down Main St. Nor can a child wear a t-shirt to school that says "F*** your mother". If there are regulations on what signs (if any) can be posted on this piece of public property, then they need to be abided by, otherwise (as Gabor mentioned) you would potentially have a serious mess on your hands if every wackadoo with an opinion realized they could start posting their signs on that spot.
Jeff Allen
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I agree with Gabor, the sign was fine, the placement was not. Would we be having this same conversation if the sign read "Osama got Bushwacked"? We know that the intelligence that led to the final act came from Gitmo and other "secret prisons" using Bush era interrogation techniques.
Chris Vallett
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If it was posted on the wall of the police station or on their own lawn doesn't matter. They wanted all people to see it what is a great spot! Hmm the center of Batavia the BEST stop. Good job boys!
Dave Meyer
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Jeff, What was "wrong" about putting the sign there? Because it's 'public property'? Aren't we the PUBLIC? I know I'm only one guy, but I don't have any problem with what was done. Oh...maybe those guys should have asked the county for permission to put the sign up there. Yeah...right. I think we all know how that would end up. I say again, kudos to Victor, Christopher, Ordy and Jason for what they did. I think it was a fantastic demonstration of pride in our government and what I think we all stand for. And shame on the tight asses at the county buildings for removing the sign.
George Richardson
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If they had used spray paint it would still be there but they would have to keep a secret in Batavia. Mission Impossible.
Jeff Allen
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It opens the door to everyones interpretation of what they see as patriotic to display it at the feet of General Upson or any other public property. I firmly believe that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and that the very foundation of our laws are the Ten Commandments. If during the night, I erect two stone tablets displaying the Commandments as a patriotic symbol of the laws of our country below General Upson, will they get the same support to remain as this sign? Again, I have no problem with the sign nor the patriotic fervor of the three guys who painted it, we just can't let every sign be plopped in the middle of Batavia without adherence to local policy.
mark jackett
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SO IS IT ILLEAGAL TO POST GARAGE SALE SIGNS? LOST DOG SIGNS? POLITICAL SIGNS [ VOTE FOR THE BIGGEST LOSER]? ECT....
Lorie Longhany
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Jeff, this is a moment that the entire country has been waiting 10 years for. It's a time of spontaneous displays. These young people wanted to find a way to show their patriotism when they saw gatherings taking place all over the country. The decision to remove the sign was stupid. They could have taken it down in a couple days when all the excitement dies down.
Jeff Allen
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Lorie, If this Christmas, I put a sign at the Upton Memorial that says "Celebrate the birth of the Creator named in our Declaration of Independence" you will defend its right to stay as a spontaneous show of patriotism for the One who is so so prominently etched in so many of our public monuments right? I mean the world waited 4,000 years for that moment.
Gabor Deutsch
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Howard, If that is true then you violate everyone's 1st Amendment rights when you don't allow any name calling on this web site. Obviously there has to be some rules and laws that everyone has to follow.
Dave Olsen
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Not to change the subject Jeff, but I'm curious; are you saying that the world began 6,011 years ago?
Jeff Allen
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you're right Dave that is really changing the subject and I would love to engage in that debate, but I would first rather finish this one, but to answer your question, yes...give or take a few years.
Dave Olsen
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Not interested in that debate, Jeff I just wanted to clarify your comment, thanks
Dave Olsen
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I believe that if you were to put up a sign at Christmas referencing the birth of Jesus Christ, the county would not be so quick to remove it. Not out of respect, but purely to avoid angering Christians.
Jeff Allen
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Dave, I'm sure it would be removed quickly and a team of ACLU lawyers would set up shop ready protect those who were offended by it.
Mark Janofsky
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@ Mark Jackett: Yes it is. In most places you can only put those types of signs on your own property, unless you have a permit. I think it's b.s. to take this sign down and leave the illegal Jane Corwin signs up at Oak & Park.
Howard B. Owens
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Gabor, not true. I'm not the government.
John Roach
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Dave, Jeff is right. In fact the City was forced to move a manger scene off city property. The guys had their sign out in front of the Post Office, on the sidewalk, at 4 PM. And they had a nice, but small crowd.
Chris Charvella
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Jeff, you're welcome to put up your sign as long as I get to put an equally reverent sign up for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, agreed? We'll also need to invite every Jew, Muslim, Wiccan, Hindu, and Candomble Priestess in Genesee County. Anyway, your religious sensibilities aren't relevant to this discussion because it isn't religious in nature. Meanwhile, spontaneous (and tasteful) celebration of an American victory should be encouraged, the kids probably should have waited until morning to ask permission though. Either way, they were having a hell of a party in front of the post office when I was on my way home from work, good for them.
Jeff Allen
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Chris, finally someone who actually reads my posts and gleans the intent. You are correct on two points, my religious sensiblities have nothing to do with the debate but everything to do with the concept of the removal of the sign and were a perfect analogy for the law. Point two, while their enthusiasm and patriotism are admirable, they should have asked permission first. Thanks Chris.
kevin kretschmer
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"....any item placed near the monument is controlled by local veterans groups. Gsell said they were not involved in placement of the sign. “There’s never signage put up there because, once again, veterans consider that hollow ground and therefore, something that they would have a protocol as to what goes there." If the local veterans would have approved of the sign, Gsell said it would have remained there, but they asked to have it taken down." I'd say that pretty much ends all the speculation about "tight-asses" in county government and perhaps some apologies are in order.
Tony Ferrando
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Wait... how random is this??? What does the Declaration of Independence -- which was a collection of grievances against King George III and asserting the colonies right to rebellion, not of American patriotism -- have to do with Christianity or, more importantly, the topic at hand? "Nature's God," "the One" and the "Creator" are most certainly Deistic terms, which 2 of the 3 men that wrote the thing were, the other being Unitarian... it's also not a legal document. All it says are "rights" are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and says then in the next sentence that to secure these rights, government needs to be created by man under the consent of those governed - in direct opposite of Kings and their Divine Right. None of those rights are included in the Constitution, a legal document, and no mention of any god in that either...
shelly mathers
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Let's be clear on this: OBAMA did NOT kill Bin Laden. An American soldier, who Obama just a few weeks ago was debating on whether or not to PAY, did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found OBL and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an AMERICAN victory!!
Sally Waldron
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But the President has to give the authorization to proceed with the mission, it's not like the soldiers took it upon themselves to go in, that only happens in Hollywood. I am not taking away from those that completed the mission, but they take orders from the White House and the Pentagon.
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Erika - if the soldiers get all the credit for this action, can we also give them all the credit for the failures?
Jeff Allen
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Tony, first of all, the Ten Commandments display was an analogy in the debate of what is and isn't proper to place om public property. Second, that debate as it relates to the Upson Memorial was soundly ended by Kevin's post. Third, have you been to Washington and toured all the buildings and monuments that not only have endless references to God(not a god) but numerous Scripture verses. Let's not play the revisionist history game with the intent of our founding fathers, there are numerous writings outside of The Declaration of Independence(speeches, letters, etc.) that clearly define their desires.
Howard B. Owens
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I'm a USAF veteran. As a veteran, one thing I know for a fact: The president is commander-in-chief. He's top of the chain of command. You can't can't give the American military credit without giving the commander credit. It's bunk to say "it's the troops" and not Obama. It's not an either-or situation. It's a team effort. Sorry, folks, Obama is president. He is the commander-in-chief. That's the way it works.
John Roach
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If it had gone bad, they would have blamed Obama. It went right, and he gets credit for it.
Lorie Longhany
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Erika, Howard is so right. The top of the chain is the president. The victory or failure of a mission of this magnitude rests with the president. Obama showed unbelievable courage issuing that order. If the mission ended in a disaster (Black Hawk Down) the buck would have stopped right at the White House. Can you imagine the backlash -- essentially his presidency would be over. The Navy Seal's are the real heroes in this mission, but the mission needed to be ordered. Bush and Obama will both have their pages written in the history books. I put my partisan hat away immediately following the 9-11 attack. There's no place for partisan division when our country has been attacked. I will never forget President Bush's speech on the rubble. At that moment he was indeed the commander in chief of everyone. When I read the little subtle comments here and all over the internet discounting President Obama's role, it's obvious that the pride that I felt after 9-11 with Bush is not giving way to the same for some on the right towards Obama. I think that's sad and frankly unpatriotic.
Tony Ferrando
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Jeff - I've lived in Washington. 1600 S Eads St, Apt 212S, Arlington, VA 22202 to be specific. In fact, I lived there during a certain September when an odd-shaped building 5 blocks north of my apartment had some strange fire. I am still trying to figure out what happened there. I think it was a Tuesday... maybe the 11th of the month. All I know is the Metro still charged me $2.50 even after I had to get off the train at the same stop I entered at in Crystal City. But no, I never went in any of the buildings when I was there. I never saw the way the Founding Fathers replaced gods with themselves... I never saw the statue of George Washington as Zeus... nor have I seen the rotunda painting with George Washington looking down upon the earth from the heavens with a halo over his head - titled The Apotheosis of Washington. I never noticed that the Jefferson Memorial was a small replica of the Pantheon, or that the Lincoln Memorial was a small replica of the Parthenon. I never noticed the statue of Neptune and his water horses outside the Library of Congress. I never noticed the statue of Themis, goddess of Justice, outside of the Supreme Court along with Moses, Confusius and Solon. I certainly never noticed the giant Egyptian style obelisk pointing to the sun. I'm not playing revisionist history at all. I am a historian. So let's not see only what we want to see, and look at the big picture. The Congressional prayer room has a stained glass window of George Washington praying... George Washington is perhaps *the* most well-known Freemason in history, the National Masonic Temple in Alexandria is named after him. So yes, someone is indeed playing revisionist history in DC, and only seeing what they want to see.

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