By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Elementary students watched and listened Monday to Oklahoma veterans as they lowered their school’s old American flag with taps played and raised a new one to the National Anthem.
The Oklahoma Veterans Association visited Monroe Elementary School in Norman on Monday afternoon to present them with a new flag to fly in front of the school and teach students about proper flag etiquette.
The Oklahoma Veterans Flag Program started with an introduction of the veterans, three who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and one who served in the United States Army. All four served in the Vietnam War.
After introductions, the veterans showed the students three short videos. The first was a DVD featuring Red Skelton explaining what the Pledge of Allegiance means.
The program was recorded in front of a live audience in 1969. After defining the words that are recited in the Pledge of Allegiance, Skelton added:
“Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our nation, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘under God.’ Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said, ‘That’s a prayer’ and that would be eliminated from schools, too?”
After that, children were shown a YouTube video of “Thank A Soldier,” a song written by Trish Lester.
“Listen closely to it, and when you get an opportunity to do what it says, do it,” Oklahoma veteran Billy May said.
Shortly into the video, the elementary students began clapping along to the beat of the song.
The last video shown was the Marine Corps silent drill team, and then the American flag was presented to the school. The veterans told students what all 13 folds of the flag mean.
“This flag represents freedom to everybody. They know what this flag means in China and Afghanistan,” May said.
The veterans passed the flag down the line to each other, saluting slowly. The reason for saluting slowly is for the “respect” and “love for families,” May said.
The program ended with students watching their old flag being lowered and the new flag, presented by the veterans, raised on the flag pole in front of their school.
The Oklahoma Veterans Association does presentations like these across the state and have visited 397 schools statewide. The presentation is not a Veterans Day program, said Terry Farmer, flag coordinator for the Marine Corps League.
The association also is looking for veterans to help them with the program. For more information, contact Farmer at 826-4768 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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