Monday, June 17, 2019

Learning About ‘Old Glory’


Fifth graders at Tommie Barfield Elementary School (TBE) gained some in-depth knowledge about the American flag near the eve of the school year’s end.

The information was provided by members of Marco Island American Legion Post 404, who spent the morning at TBE discussing facts about the flag, how to show proper respect for the nation’s banner and fielding the youths’ questions.

Handling the instruction were Bill Duncan, a Vietnam-era combat disabled veteran who was in the U.S. Navy for six years, before working at the White House as a member of the U.S. Secret Service. He was joined by the post’s vice-commander, Bill Horton, a Korea-era veteran and a former U.S. Army paratrooper, and Bob Lanam, a former school teacher who served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1986.

Among the topics he discussed were:

  • The meaning of half-staff and when the flag should be flown in that manner.
  • The history and symbolism of the flag’s stars and stripes and colors.
  • The fact when displayed on a pole, the flag should be raised in the morning and lowered at sundown, unless the flag pole is illuminated.
  • The fact that burning with a dignified disposal of the ashes is the proper way to dispose of a flag.
  • The flag should never be worn as clothing or used for any purpose other than intended.
  • If the flag should touch the ground, it should be immediately picked up and if need be, cleaned.
  • The flag should always be displayed with the stars top-left and only displayed upside down as a signal of distress or emergency.
  • No flag should ever be placed above the American flag.
  • The proper way to dispose of the flag.


Duncan, Horton and Lanam held the students’ rapt attention with the information they presented, the questions they posed and a light-hearted humor. They also selected several students from each session to help them demonstrate the proper way to fold the flag.

The threesome met with the students in several one-hour long sessions. At the end of one session, teacher Alexa Macy said she thought the program was awesome.

“It’s been a real opportunity for the kids to learn about the American flag, what it means and what it stands for,” she added. “I learned a lot personally and with them asking so many questions, it’s been a great opportunity to broaden their learning. They were very engaged. They asked so many questions.”

Duncan agreed.

“I think the kids have been excellent,” he said. “They’re very attentive. They want to learn about the flag and we love teaching the children about the flag because if we don’t, who will? When they get older, they’ll hopefully pass this information down to their families so we can all have a real appreciation for the United States flag.”

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