Which kid is yours?
All of them.
Which kid is yours?
All of them.
At the moment the link is down, to download a sharp copy of the poster for printing in gigantic size, but that shouldn’t stop you from planning to fly your flag next Saturday, May 15, for Armed Forces Day. We honor those men and women currently in uniform serving our nation on the third Saturday in May
Previously, in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:
Adults worry about peer pressure. Kids can goad other kids into doing stupid things, dangerous things, illegal things, and immoral things.
Pressure from adults on kids might be just as strong.
What about a 10-year-old kid who stands up to peer pressure, and stands for principle against adults who use all sorts of inducements to get him to do something he believes is wrong?
I offer a salute to Will Phillips of West Fork School District, in Washington County, Arkansas.
Will believes homosexuals in America are not beneficiaries of liberty and justice for all. Will now refuses to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance for that reason.
It’s probably not what I’d advise the young man to do to protest, but he has every right. He’s thought it through, which may not be said for the substitute teacher and the school administrator who tried to pressure him into giving up on his principles.
In the Arkansas Times, David Koon writes the story:
WILL PHILLIPS: Freedom lover.
Will Phillips isn’t like other boys his age.
For one thing, he’s smart. Scary smart. A student in the West Fork School District in Washington County, he skipped a grade this year, going directly from the third to the fifth. When his family goes for a drive, discussions are much more apt to be about Teddy Roosevelt and terraforming Mars than they are about Spongebob Squarepants and what’s playing on Radio Disney.
It was during one of those drives that the discussion turned to the pledge of allegiance and what it means. Laura Phillips is Will’s mother. “Yes, my son is 10,” she said. “But he’s probably more aware of the meaning of the pledge than a lot of adults. He’s not just doing it rote recitation. We raised him to be aware of what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s fair.”
Will’s family has a number of gay friends. In recent years, Laura Phillips said, they’ve been trying to be a straight ally to the gay community, going to the pride parades and standing up for the rights of their gay and lesbian neighbors. They’ve been especially dismayed by the effort to take away the rights of homosexuals – the right to marry, and the right to adopt. Given that, Will immediately saw a problem with the pledge of allegiance.
“I’ve always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.”
After asking his parents whether it was against the law not to stand for the pledge, Will decided to do something. On Monday, Oct. 5, when the other kids in his class stood up to recite the pledge of allegiance, he remained sitting down. The class had a substitute teacher that week, a retired educator from the district, who knew Will’s mother and grandmother. Though the substitute tried to make him stand up, he respectfully refused. He did it again the next day, and the next day. Each day, the substitute got a little more cross with him. On Thursday, it finally came to a head. The teacher, Will said, told him that she knew his mother and grandmother, and they would want him to stand and say the pledge.
“She got a lot more angry and raised her voice and brought my mom and my grandma up,” Will said. “I was fuming and was too furious to really pay attention to what she was saying. After a few minutes, I said, ‘With all due respect, ma’am, you can go jump off a bridge.’ ”
Will was sent to the office, where he was given an assignment to look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, the principal called his mother.
“She said we have to talk about Will, because he told a sub to jump off a bridge,” Laura Phillips said. “My first response was: Why? He’s not just going to say this because he doesn’t want to do his math work.”
Eventually, Phillips said, the principal told her that the altercation was over Will’s refusal to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and admitted that it was Will’s right not to stand. Given that, Laura Phillips asked the principal when they could expect an apology from the teacher. “She said, ‘Well I don’t think that’s necessary at this point,’ ” Phillips said.
After Phillips put a post on the instant-blogging site twitter.com about the incident, several of her friends got angry and alerted the news media. Meanwhile, Will Phillips still refuses to stand during the pledge of allegiance. Though many of his friends at school have told him they support his decision, those who don’t have been unkind, and louder.
“They [the kids who don't support him] are much more crazy, and out of control and vocal about it than supporters are.”
Given that his protest is over the rights of gays and lesbians, the taunts have taken a predictable bent. “In the lunchroom and in the hallway, they’ve been making comments and doing pranks, and calling me gay,” he said. “It’s always the same people, walking up and calling me a gaywad.”
Even so, Will said that he can’t foresee anything in the near future that will make him stand for the pledge. To help him deal with the peer pressure, his parents have printed off posts in his support on blogs and websites. “We’ve told him that people here might not support you, but we’ve shown him there are people all over that support you,” Phillips said. “It’s really frustrating to him that people are being so immature.”
At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will’s answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples. What does being an American mean?
“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.”
Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson smiles.
President Obama issued a directive ordering all federal facilities to fly the national flag at half-staff from now until Veterans Day (November 11), to honor the soldiers and civilians felled at Fort Hood, Texas.
“It is an act of violence that would have been heartbreaking had it occurred anyplace in America,” Obama said. “It is a crime that would have horrified us had its victims been Americans of any background. But it’s all the more heartbreaking and all the more despicable because of the place where it occurred and the patriots who were its victims.”
The president said he met Friday with FBI Director Robert Mueller, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others to discuss their continuing investigation into the attack, which also injured at least 30.
Obama also expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and recognized those who helped the wounded after the shooting at the base’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center. The center is where soldiers go to have their teeth checked and medical records updated before deploying overseas.
“These are the men and women we honor today. These are the men and women we’ll honor on Veterans Day,” Obama said. “And these are the men and women we shall honor every day, in times of war and times of peace, so long as our nation endures.” (from the Virginian-Pilot, in Norfolk, Virginia)
Obama’s directive follows Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s order for flags in Texas to be flown half-staff until Monday.
Flag etiquette reminder: When flown at half-staff, the U.S. flag should be raised quickly to full staff, then lowered slowly to half-staff.
Get ready to fly your flag on Veterans Day, November 11.
So far I’ve been able to learn that Joe Bruni is a firefighter. Beyond that, I don’t know much other than his YouTube series on flag etiquette is very good — not perfect, but very, very good.
In this episode he talks about carrying a flag. I wish he’d discussed it in terms of a flag ceremony, but he gets the basics right.
Younger Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies and Bluebirds will have difficulty holding a large flag and pole vertical — get a flag harness to help them out (usually less than $25.00 at Scout supply shops).
He’s got a bunch of these. I’ll pass them along as I get a chance to view them.
(Joe Bruni — who are you?)