Fifth grade students at Tommie Barfield Elementary School are much more aware of how to show proper respect for the American flag thanks to Marco Island’s American Legion Post 404.
Bill Horton and Bob Lanam, of post 404, recently visited TBE to instruct five classes of students on the topic; even letting two lucky children participate in a demonstration of the correct way to fold the nation’s banner. They also discussed history, meaning and importance of the National Anthem.
Lanam, a former teacher who served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1986, led the instruction, holding the youths’ rapt attention with an enthusiastic mix of information, remembrances about his military service and abundant humor.
“The kids were 100 percent respectful, they were 100 percent attentive and asked some of the best questions,” he said. “They’re fun to be around and I really enjoyed myself. The principal (Katie Maya) was so nice in allowing us to come in.”
Early on in his final presentation before two classrooms of fifth graders, Lanam posed the question: “What does the American Flag mean to you?”
A student named Nick responded by calling it a symbol of freedom. “Freedom and honor,” said a girl named McKenzie. Another student, named Emily, said, “I think it means respect.”
Lanam said all those answers were correct.
“The American flag is a symbol of America,” he said. “It’s a symbol of freedom. It’s a symbol of respect. There’s no place around the world where people don’t know what it is and where it’s from because we are known around the world.”
The fact that citizens and soldiers, perhaps including some of the children’s relatives, have died for the flag and what it represents was cited by Lanam, who urged them to be very proud of their service and that of those who serve today.
Among the topics he also 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.
- Jennifer Jewett, whose students were part of that final class, was thoroughly pleased with the presentation.
“I think it’s excellent to have them come in and talk to the children,” she said. “I was so pleased to see the level of respect that the students gave them as they were speaking. I wish we did more with the community, but we’re blessed to be here because we have these individuals at our disposal. It’s unique compared to a lot of communities and I hope to have them here next year.”