By now, you have probably heard of the five high school students who were asked to remove clothing (well, turn it inside out) picturing the American flag on May 5. (If you haven't, here's an aritcle or two.) A friend first told me about the incident, and she didn't know where the high school was located. Only in California, I sadly thought to myself. And sure enough - California.
I don't get too involved with political topics on the blog. Only a few times in all the years I've written has my musings wandered into political arenas. I don't think I've ever discussed political parties or candidates (except to support our govenor during a crisis, which I've seriously had to re-think my support when I see what's going on in our public schools. But I digress. . . . ).
This outrages me. I am a very patriotic person. I cry during the national anthem. My dad is a marine and in our house, the flag was respected. I cannot remember a day when the flag was not flying at our house, and it never - NEVER - touched the ground. (So much so that my dad is still a little uncomfortable that our welcome mat in front of our front door is red, white, and blue.) So when some kids are asked to turn their t-shirts inside out because the picture of the American flag could be considered disrespectful, that makes me furious. The American flag is the reason that people of any heritage have the freedom to celebrate the things that are important to their family. Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Year, St. Patrick's Day, Kwanza - I'm sure there are a multitude of holidays, and I'm sure that celebrations honoring them are all protected under the freedoms of our country - represented by the American flag!!!
And, as many people on the Support-the-Live-Oak-Five facebook page have pointed out, if Americans were in any other country on July 4 and had a hissy fit about someone wearing a t-shirt with that country's flag on it - well, that would not be well recieved at all. Not at all.
Intolerance is a two-way street. When you restrict one person's freedoms, it hurts all of us. I may not want to wear American flag shorts, but I will stand up and say that any American is free to do so. I may not agree with your politics or religion, but I will stand with you in your right to your opinions and your right to express them.
When I found the support page on facebook, I sent it to every person in my friends. Every one. I didn't even stop to think of their background - it didn't even occur to me that if they were part Mexican or came from Mexico or (like me) are related to someone from Mexico - I am confident that all of my friends love America and that they would be as outraged as me that students in our country would be treated this way.
Our country as a Flag Code - did you know that? Here's some quotes from the rules concerning our flag:
"No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America."
"The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing."
Sure, the t-shirts the students were wearing are pictures of the American flag, and not an actual flag, but still. No disrespect should be shown. Especially when you are living in America, and enjoying the freedoms that the flag represents.
I've been studying the Civil War with one student, WWII with another student, and the Revolutionary War with my daughter. I think of all the brave men and women who gave their very lives for our country and for our freedoms. When I honor our flag, I honor their sacrifice. When our flag is disrespected, it dishonors the lives that were given for our freedoms.