Local Legion club donates American flags to New England classrooms

With Harold Narum (LEFT), Allen Schmidt (CENTER) presents a flag to his granddaughter Leighton Olsonowski (R) in the gymnasium of New England Public School. (Photo by Rachel Bock/The Herald)
With Harold Narum (LEFT), Allen Schmidt (CENTER) presents a flag to his granddaughter Leighton Olsonowski (R) in the gymnasium of New England Public School. (Photo by Rachel Bock/The Herald)

Herald Editor

Since September, the students and the staff at New England Public School start each morning of their school day off by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which is led by the Kindergarten students over the school intercom.

A morning tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was something that New England School Superintendent Kelly Koppinger wanted to bring back into the school system for a couple of years now to instill in our kids how important the flag is and how we need to show respect for our flag.

“We brought back the Pledge for our school community so that we can have some understanding of what that flag actually represents for us. It is a symbol of freedom, a symbol of what people in the past have fought for us to take and protect our freedom and privileges that we enjoy,” Koppinger said.

One day a teacher at the school noticed that one of her classrooms did not have an American flag, and since the school is reciting the Pledge every morning, her classroom needed to have a flag for her students to salute in the morning. The teacher contacted a New England American Legion member and was told that the Legion would be happy to donate flags so that every classroom at the school will have one.

To add to the importance of Veteran’s Day, a group of four vets from the American Legion spoke to the student body at the school about the significance of our flag, and the respect that we should have for it. Joe Bohlman, who served in the Army from 1959 to 1961, started the assembly off by speaking about the history of the United States flag. Duane Dobitz, who was in the Army and then the National Guard was deployed to Iraq, spoke about what the flag means to him, and how happy it makes him to hear that the school is saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.

“I think it is great. You see so much disrespect for everything out there now days, there is nothing better than to start right here in school showing the respect for the flag. Like I told the kids it’s not my flag it is our flag,” Duane Dobitz said.

Harold Narum, who served in the Army from 1962 to 1965, spoke about how the flag should be displayed and honored, and Allen Schmidt, who was in the Air Force from 1963 to 1967 and fought in the Vietnam War, talked about what the words of the Pledge of Allegiance actually mean and stand for.

The group also displayed flags that were made out of different materials, showing a flag that was made out of cotton and a flag that had only 48 stars on them before the joining of Alaska and Hawaii. They also explained what to do if they or someone they know has a flag that needs to be retired due to wear and the condition of the flag. They also showed the students a service flag, and explained to the students that when they see one they know that a family has a loved one that is currently serving in a war or conflict.

To end the assembly the American Legion members gave a student representative or teacher from each classroom a new flag to be displayed in their classroom.

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