What a difference a day (or two) makes. Last Friday, 13 year old Cody Alicea was told to remove his American flag from his bike that he rode to school. Reason? "Concern about racial tensions or uprisings." Oh, did I mention this was IN America, in an American school?
Courtesy of the internet, this ridiculous official decree - and the absurd stated reasons behind it - spread across America and beyond. THIS was the response from patriotic Americans:
You can find more on this all over the internet. One site was Wake Up America here.
All wonderful, of course, but *ahem*, Cody is now 'allowed' to fly his flag? Following a barrage of emails and phone calls to this school, (yes, I did call myself!) the administration 'reversed their decision.' Excuuuuuuse me? Since when in America does ANYONE need permission, to be 'allowed,' to fly the Star Spangled Banner? Seems to me that administration and the teachers there need some teaching themselves. As for the absurd concern over 'racial tensions'????? Surely, in an American school, IN America, if anyone had issues with the American flag flying (whatever their racial or ethnic background,) that was a golden opportunity, a teachable moment if you will!
I have written in the past - under the Fly your flag, America title - about veterans not being allowed to fly their American flags in the place and manner they deem fitting such a symbol of the country most of them have fought for. I have helped educate a few 'authority' figures! And now we come to a 13 year old being told when and where he is 'allowed' to fly his country's flag; his country's symbol of freedom.
I have also written about the significance of the Star Spangled Banner previously. A few years ago, an American friend of mine sent me a piece on a lecture that Isaac Asimov had given on the topic. This friend - a retired school teacher - included the lesson she used to give on the history of this flag. The column I wrote - almost 4 years ago now - was originally published on Tanker Bros (a US site that was my first milblog home.) Another American friend just became aware of this column and asked me to repost it. So here it is, actually from Wake Up America, who graciously published it at the time.:
Monday, August 20, 2007
I first heard the Star Spangled Banner at a July 4 community barbeque many years ago. Fresh from my homeland just two days previously, I stood in small town America and watched, and listened, as everybody joined to sing this anthem. (And yes - that was my first exposure to that great American institution: barbeques!)To this day, whenever I hear this, I remember that first July 4 and am reminded of the amazing display of patriotism, unity.
Those were the days when America was torn apart by the Vietnam war, when neighbour argued with neighbour over the back fence about the validity of the US involvement in a land far away. But, at that barbque, celebrating a most American holiday, there was no evidence of the tears in the fabric of American society. For those few shining moments, there was a unity, a common bond of purpose.
Many years have passed since that first time. I have travelled many miles of the heart, and learned many things - worked with thousands of children from around the world in both America and Canada. You have to know that I was raised with a visceral love of my country. To this day I get goosebumps whenever I hear MY national anthem, no matter the miles separating me from my homeland. I can sing every word, and taste, and feel, and smell the land of my birth.
So here we are in another war in a land far, far away (for now! We all know that in reality, THIS war is already in our own backyards.) And yes, the Star Spangled Banner is still sung in small towns, and big cities across the land. Today though, because of what I have seen, I often pause and wonder: do these people really REALLY understand, mean, what they are singing? Do Americans today LIVE the meaning of the words? Sure, we all teach our children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (at least until it is totally outlawed by the dimtwits), and we still raise the young people of our nations to revere the flag - that symbol of what their forefathers and mothers fought for, bled for, and died for. My daughter is blessed. She has been nurtured in the love of two countries. For her, it is as natural as breathing to know all the words of MY national anthem, and sing them with pride and allegiance. She also, because of her birth-land, is able to sing another national anthem (in both official languages no less!) and understand what every word means. She LIVES them, because we have been discussing what the words mean - the concepts behind them - since she could talk. Years ago, James Clavell was struck when his young daughter came home from school and proudly recited what she had learned that day. Word perfect, she recited rote fashion:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.
October 11, 1892
A really interesting history of the origins of the Pledge of Allegiance here.
Clavell asked his daughter what that all meant after she had finished. She had no clue. Imagine that. Clavell then wrote a short story (by his prolific standards anyway. lol) called "The Children's Story." You can find the text of the whole story online - I did. Please, go read that here. I came across a copy of this a few years back, and I remember how it resonated for me. At the time, I had worked with many kids, was a mother myself, and was currently working in a classroom of impressionable 5 year olds. Is there anything more precious? That may sound like a throwaway comment, question, but it really is not...
You will know I had much more to say, and you can find it at Wake Up America here.
As I wrote in that column, love of country, patriotism, reverence for one's country flag (in this case the Star Spangled Banner) is a concept that should be taught from birth. Take a look:
Teach your children well.