Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue

Recently my friend Sandy was explaining the history of the Canadian flag. Should you care to know how it came to be, visit her blog here. My comment to her was that I find it interesting how a little (or in Texas, HUMONGOUS) piece of fabric with different colors can be the rallying point for a nation. Which one of us has NOT teared up when the Stars and Stripes magically rise into the air of an arena or stadium to the strains of the Star Spangled Banner? And as far as I’m concerned, Kleenex is just part of an Olympic watching experience.

Every day in the state of Texas (Home of the HUMONGOUS American flag flying over car dealerships. . .I am not EVEN kidding, y’all. When I was a Senior in high school, my mom and I came to a cousin’s wedding near Dallas. As we approached the Metroplex, I saw THE BIGGEST AMERICAN FLAG EVER waving over a Ford dealership. You will be glad to know that all of the car dealerships in this part of the country are INCREDIBLY patriotic.) we all stand to say the pledge to the American flag (you know that one) , the pledge to the Texas flag (“Honor the Texas flag. I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.”) , and then sit and pause for a moment of silence (“. . .during the moment of silence you may pray, meditate, or just remain quiet and still. . .”).

In Cy-Fair, the elementary schools are open concept. Open concept means no walls. As in No Walls. (see explanation below. . .I began explaining, but it ruined the flow. I’ve already hit you with one, make the two. . .no SIX parenthetical explanations already.) The children come to Jr. High VERY LOUDLY. . .and so it takes me quite awhile to break them from talking during the moment of silence. I tell them from the get go that I use that minute to pray. Last year I had a particularly sarcastic boy who thought it appropriate to ask what I was praying. I found it appropriate to say, “I’m prayin’ that I don’t kill YOU!” There were several comments from others that went along the lines of “Burn. . .face. . .ooooooohhhhhh. . .you tell him, Miss.” I then explained that I pray for them, for my family to be safe, and for me to do my best job I can for ALL of them. THEN we always have to discuss why I’m able to pray, and it all goes back to that little piece of chalkdust covered fabric that hangs off the edge of our chalk board.

I am particularly proud of our flag. I’m proud of the history of how it came to be. . .even the parts that are myth, because it is a part of our national history as well. I’m proud that the changes in our flag over the years are not because of division but because of unity. I am proud that each color and stripe represent a certain aspect of our history. I am proud of the one we bought from Wal-Mart that waves from our brick pillar out front right this minute. I am proud to have one that was draped on a veteran’s coffin (my husband’s grandfather) in the armoire in our bedroom and the one that sits on my parent’s mantel (my dad’s dad’s) in their home. Someday there will be more flags for our families. Tony’s dad served during Korea in both Korea and England. My Daddy served during Vietman but never, thankfully, had to go overseas. He trained marksmen at an Air Force base in Florida.

In the spring of 1997, we had a friend who was murdered. He was a 26 year old Police officer and was killed in the line of duty. He was also a Navy Seal and had a full military funeral with the riderless horse, Houston police officers with badges draped in black bands, a 21 gun salute, the Missing Man formation flying overhead, and a flag draped over his coffin. He was Korean. His parents came to the United States FROM Korea. And at the end of his service, two of the officers from the honor guard silently, respectfully, folded the flag and presented it to his mother, “With deepest thanks from a grateful nation.”

I don’t explain all of that to my students. I tell them, that even though all they see is a dusty piece of fabric, there is much, much more meaning tied into it than they can ever know–than I can ever know. But someday, they will begin to understand.

So. . .enjoy the parades–the fireworks–the cookouts–the brass bands. Enjoy your day in the Land of the Free. And if you have a flag–display it in front of your home just to remind us of how blessed we are.

Open Concept Insanity ExplanationThere are partial walls and book cases and filing cabinets to delineate areas and “rooms.” There are a myriad of reasons why this is so. Cy-Fair has always been a “cutting edge” district. So when open concept became all the rage, they jumped on the bandwagon. That sort of coincided with a huge growth in our district (3rd largest in Texas with right at 100,000 students) and walls, as it turns out, cost money. It’s cheaper without walls you see.

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8 thoughts on “Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue

  1. So, as I’m to understand it, Cy Fair is only “cutting edge” as long as it’s cheap!

    Very nice explanation of the chalk covered flag in the classroom!

  2. OOOO, I remember open classrooms! I visited a couple for various reasons – VERY LOUD! Chaotic! I never understood how that could be a good thing.

    Love those HUGE flags…. I love it even more when there’s a Lone Star right next to it. Only in Texas….

  3. The elementary school my boys go to/went to is open classroom – and interestingly it is very quiet in the school. I’ve popped in numerous times and am always amazed how noiseless and calm the class rooms are. Also, in Colorado – where I went to an open classroom middle school, I remember my 6th grade math teacher talked in a very quiet voice. Very quiet. We HAD TO be quiet if we were going to hear a word he said. (Brilliant strategy on his part, I must say)

    Oh! And Happy B-Day USA!

  4. Great post. I keep telling my daughter and daughter that we protect the flag and respect it for what it represents. Kind of like the Cross- but that the Cross is soooo much more significant.

    (and I love) (Parentheses)


  5. Sarah–we currently have 47 elementary campuses, 2 opening this fall, 2 opening next fall, that’s a lot of walls. Open Concept would have gone by the wayside long, long ago, but they have built 23 (+2) of those campuses since I came to the district 15 years ago. It’s insane.

    Stephanie–yes, normally our schools are quiet, but, unfortunately, with nearly 1,000 kids in each elementary school it gets a tad noisy. The one year I taught in an open concept school, my 2nd grade teacher neighbor shot daggers at me all year long, because my kids had science (VERY hands on and loud) during her kids’ reading time. Not fun.

    Denise–where in Texas is there NOT a Lone Star flying either at the same height or directly below the Stars and Stripes? And did you know that the San Jacinto monument is the only national monument to be either the same height or TALLER than the Washington monument? Those Texans are brash.

    Melanie–Thank you for your love of all things parenthetical. . .I tend to carry on entire conversations that way. . .I’ve even been known to put parentheses INSIDE of parentheses. Kind of like a big ‘ole word hug.

  6. I went to an open-concept elementary school back in the 70s! Wow, was that every cutting-edge back then. I didn’t even think there were open concepts left. I thought it was a failed experiment. I thrived in the free-er environment, but some kids could not cope.

    This is one of the best patriotic posts that I read. I particularly was touched by the Korean veteran. Very nicely written.

  7. Great post, Roxanne. And I had no idea there existed such a thing as open-concept schools. I don’t think I would have handled it well. Our little Mississippi school was silent and still and cocooned at all times, and I thrived on that. I can’t imagine trying to teach with that kind of distraction!

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