Lesson focuses on flag etiquette

Thursday, March 7, 2013
From left, Jim Metzer and Rich McMahon from American Legion Post 26 show students from Hacker Middle School the proper way to fold the American flag. Photo by Brian S. Orban

On Monday afternoon, representatives with American Legion Post 26 stopped by Hacker Middle School to emphasize the meaning of patriotism and the significance of the American flag.

Members of the Mountain Home post continued a tradition that at one pointed remained absent in the local schools for years.

According to Richard McMahon, past commander the local Legion post, it's important for children to understand and appreciate what it means to be an American. While many of them can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, for example, very few of those students understand the underlying meaning behind those words, he said.

Jim Metzer responds to a question from Aarolyn Deskins, who wanted to know more about the Vietnam War.

McMahon helped the fifth graders put into context the meaning of words like "allegiance" and "republic."

"The pledge says you're making a promise to this country -- a promise to be true," said McMahon, a Vietnam War veteran.

Events like this remain an important tradition to ensure students fully understand and appreciate what this nation represents, he added.

"We're talking about Americanism -- what it means to be a true American," McMahon said. "I respect our flag very deeply" and everything this nation represents.

During their presentation, McMahon and Jim Metzer from the Legion honor guard took an American flag and showed the students the 13-step procedure used to properly fold it. As they made each fold, they explained the symbolism associated with each fold.

"The flag should always be treated with honor and respect," McMahon told the children.

During their presentation, members of the Legion addressed proper ways to care for the flag. They emphasized that people should never write or draw anything on the Stars and Stripes nor wear it as part of a costume.

In addition, the military veterans highlighted a few additional facts about displaying the flag on special occasions.

On Veterans' Day, for example, people are allowed to fly the colors on a flag pole at half staff. However, they must briskly raise the flag to the top of the staff before they lower it to the desired height. When they lower the colors at the end of the day, people should always raise it to the top of the staff before it's fully lowered.

Meanwhile, people who want to fly the flag at night may do so as long as a light source shines on the flag during the hours of darkness. In addition, people are encouraged to take the flag down to prevent it from being exposed to inclement weather and to replace it when the wind and elements have caused it to fade or become tattered and torn.

Following the presentation, a few curious students stopped and asked the Legion members a few questions. Among them was Aarolyn Deskins, who asked, "what was Vietnam?"

Taking a seat, Metzer chose not to get into the details of the war that raged across southeast Asia more than 40 years ago. Instead, he shared with the fifth grader just a glimpse of what it was like for children lived in the war-torn country.

For many of these children, he said, the idea of going to school was unheard of, especially for those who didn't live in the larger cities. The children often lacked shoes and had to wear the same clothing every day.

It helped the child and the others listening in to understand and appreciate the freedoms they enjoy every day.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: