Northridge Elementary Students Learn Respect for the Flag and their Country

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG)  |  By Suzanne Winters and Elise Spleiss
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Photo by Jessica Norton, San Juan Unified School District

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - June 14 is Flag Day. In preparation for this day, nearly 200 students at Northridge Elementary School in Fair Oaks learned all about the American flag during multiple classes on May 7 and May 8. Two members of American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Unit 383 in Fair Oaks and Desert Storm veteran Pete DePalma spent two mornings with students from kindergarten through fifth grade, sharing the Flag Etiquette educational program created for the auxiliary.  In the process they learned a lot more than etiquette.

With only 15 minutes to spend with each class, Auxiliary President Suzanne Winters, Education Chairman Judy Long and DePalma chose an interactive style of teaching. After introducing themselves they asked each class age-appropriate questions to get the students to think about what they might already know about the Pledge of Allegiance, the 13 colonies, the history of the American flag and other flag trivia.

They discussed what a veteran is, and how veterans throughout history have fought, and are still fighting for the freedom the flag stands for.  DePalma showed the students how to do a proper salute, which they practiced with enthusiasm.  He then fired a quick succession of questions at them such as, “Why do you say the pledge every morning at 9 a.m.?”; “Who designed our present flag?” (a 17-year-old high school student in 1958); and “Who was Betsy Ross?”

ALA President Winters further described the day, saying, “We went from classroom to classroom to educate K-5th graders about flag etiquette.  We had a great time handing out flags to all the students.  We gave the kindergarten class new boxes of coloring crayons and a paper flag for them to color.  The upper grades received flag etiquette booklets.” 

American Legion member Pete DePalma, president of the American Legion Riders and Commander-elect of Legion Post 383, volunteered to go as well.  He is a combat veteran from Desert Storm.  He brought along an American flag to help educate the students on what it stands for, what the stars and stripes represent, what each color of the flag symbolizes - innocence, valour, perseverance and vigilance - and why they are important.

Students in each class helped with a flag folding ceremony. They learned how to respect the flag and its proper disposal upon being retired.

The most fun was the question and answer time with the students.  When asked how many flags were on the moon, there were a staggering number of answers. You can only imagine some of the answers when asked how the flags got there – some even may have discovered that aliens may have been responsible. The upper graders knew about astronauts, Apollo space crafts and the lack of atmosphere on the moon. They even knew how many flags were flying on the moon.  The answer was ‘none’ (as there is no wind to make the flags wave). 

Everyone was very impressed with all the students, knowing what they have learned will extend into their families and the community. The American Legions sends a big thank you to Neighborhood Liaison Jessica Norton for setting up this event.

American Legion Auxiliary, Fair Oaks, Unit 383 was chartered in September of 2016.  They have formed a devoted group of women who have embraced their community. The pillars, which ALA’s foundation rest on, are the rehabilitation of veterans, children and youth, serving the local community and disaster relief activities.

For more information of the American Legion Auxiliary visit www.al383.org or email: webcaptain@AL383.org.