By Janet Cruz
What is the meaning of the folds of the American Flag? How should the flag be handled with care?
These were just some of the questions the Veterans of Foreign Wars Group (VFW) answered for a group of third graders learning about civics at Havasupai Elementary School Friday.
Students listened and watched as VFW District Chairman Steve Knock explained the importance of the flag and demonstrated how to carefully handle and fold one.
The flag was eventually folded neatly into the shape of a triangle after 13 folds. Students also practiced folding it themselves. Knock later read out loud what they each represented and also instructed them how to do a proper salute.
“When you render a salute it’s a form of respect,” explained Knock.
Third-grade teacher Tiffany Berry always teaches a lesson at the beginning of class every morning, after the Pledge of Allegiance. The students say the Pledge daily and Berry takes the time to explain what the flag represents. The VFW often pays a visit to teach the class to go along with their social studies topics.
“I have a wonderful working relationship with the VFW for many years. They come into the classroom four or five times a year for various presentations that go along with our lessons,” Berry said. “Today they are here to speak about the flag.”
According to Knock, a flag retirement ceremony for worn flags is often conducted by the VFW. It is often called the decommissioning and the flag is placed in a cylinder, lit on fire and reduced to ashes. The reason for this is to ensure that it doesn’t continue to rip or damage and is decommissioned respectfully.
“The lesson on flag folding is one that we have previously done at the end of the year, but it goes along with our Pledge lessons and I thought it would be a great way to reconnect with the VFW and to celebrate Civics/Constitution Day,” Berry said.
“I learned you don’t place the flag in the sky when it’s raining,” said third grader Quinn Kobalchick.
The VFW and Berry always strive to give students a general understanding of the flag’s significance and the contributions of our military and veterans who protect us and our freedoms daily.
“Patriotism and Civics education are very important to me personally, my father and my son are both veterans and I was raised with an appreciation for the freedoms our country has fought to gain and preserve it,” added Berry.