The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Flag flap draws little comment at meeting
By PAMELA GOULD
Korean War veteran Oscar K. Creasy waved a small American flag as he approached the Spotsylvania School Board Monday night to encourage the division to instruct students about respect for the flag.
His appearance and that of two other veterans was prompted by a student’s display of a tattered American flag at the Aug. 24 football game between Chancellor and Riverbend high schools.
Under the federal flag code, which carries no penalties, flags that are no longer in condition for display should be destroyed in a dignified way.
The student who held the tattered flag was part of a group at Chancellor High known as “The Charger Chaos,” that tries to inspire school spirit.
The veterans agreed that the student was acting out of ignorance, not malice, but asked the school division to address the situation by incorporating instruction on the federal code into the curriculum.
Mike Curry, a Stafford County resident, brought the incident to the board’s attention through emails at the end of August.
He appeared Monday night, he said, after getting no response from four board members and what he considered an unsatisfactory response from two others. He found only one response, from board member Amanda Blalock, to be heading in the right direction.
Blalock said she would work to see the problem didn’t arise again.
Curry noted in his presentation Monday night that state law requires school divisions to instruct about flag etiquette, including instruction on the Pledge of Allegiance.
A woman who said she was the mother of the student who displayed the flag said he had no malicious intent in his display and agreed that all students should be educated about the appropriate treatment of the American flag.
She said she was concerned about the amount of attention his action received and said he complied completely when the problem was pointed out.
Monday night, after the meeting, schools spokeswoman Rene Daniels provided The Free Lance–Star with information spelling out what the school division currently does to instruct students.
The flag is “an integral part of our country’s history and as such it is part of the curriculum taught in Spotsylvania County Schools,” Daniels said in the information she provided in writing.
She listed the following things that are done in the schools:
Students begin the day by reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Students are provided an opportunity to learn flag etiquette as part of the daily activity of raising and lowering the flags in front of each school.
The significance and importance of the U.S. flag is embedded throughout the K–12 curriculum.
Daniels also said that the following things are covered beginning in primary grades and are “reinforced throughout secondary education.” Some are covered as part of the state-mandated Standards of Learning:
Procedures for pledging allegiance to the American flag.
Betsy Ross and the creation of the flag and its significance to the Revolutionary War.
Respect for and honor of both the U.S. and Virginia flag as part of civics education.
The Battle of Fort McHenry and Francis Scott Key’s inspiration to write the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Duties and responsibilities of good citizenship.
The Declaration of Independence and the principles upon which the country was founded and that the flag symbolizes.
Daniels also noted that issues related to patriotism are addressed through commemorations related to Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the observance of the anniversary of Sept. 11.
Today, in observance of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, many schools will be play patriotic songs; encourage wearing red, white and blue; and read patriotic stories.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972