I’d like to think that we could burn the flag, or turn the North Salem Vikings into the North Salem Scarlet Pimpernels, without putting the things we value at any great risk. That flag that I let touch the ground still flew over Oak Grove Elementary for many more years before it was retired, and no one (except poor Annie Joliffe, who I think was so scandalized that she didn’t dare tell anyone) was the wiser. And the students at North would, I think, play just as hard on the football field in different colored uniforms.
I wonder if, as meaningful and as important as these symbols are, we sometimes let them get in the way of the things that really matter. It’s easy to teach kids flag etiquette. But if you can answer their question of “Why?”, that may be the more meaningful lesson
EMILY F. POPEK is assistant editor of The Daily Star. Contact her at email@example.com.