Kids learn American Flag etiquette from veterans

Published 3:42 pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Veterans Jerry Grooms (left) and Lally Bates join efforts to teach kids at the YMCA summer camp how to properly lower a flag.

Veterans Jerry Grooms (left) and Lally Bates join efforts to teach kids at the YMCA summer camp how to properly lower a flag.

YMCA summer camp participants had the opportunity to learn about American Flag etiquette from members of local Veteran organizations.

The Chilton County American Legion, Disabled Veterans Association and VFW sent members to the YMCA on Friday, June 13, to teach children, age 7-12, about the proper technique used to fold an American flag, as well as the respectful actions associated with the National Anthem and raising of the flag.

Veteran Jerry Grooms instructed the children to “take off your hats and put your hand over your heart” while the National Anthem is playing.

During the raising and lowering of the flag, the young kids were taught to salute and remain silent in order to show respect.

Grooms, along with veterans Lally Bates, Roy Kelley, Dave Robinson and Bonny Cost, demonstrated the proper folding of the American flag, with the stars “always facing up.”

11-year-olds Gabrielle Harris, Samantha Cost and Hunter Abbott were chosen to help fold the flag, while making sure not to drop or damage it.

“I didn’t know there was a certain way you had to fold the flag,” Cost said. “I had no idea about some of the things they were telling us. I’m glad that I learned something new today.”

The young spectators were drawn to attention as Grooms explained that any flag that touches the ground must be burned in a special ceremony.

“No flag is to be flown higher than the American flag,” Grooms said.

Aside from educating the youngsters on the handling of their country’s flag, the veterans also wanted to acknowledge Flag Day, which was Saturday, June 14.

YMCA Director Angie Wright shared her gratitude for the veterans’ influence on the young kids of the camp.

“[The veterans] came to us and wanted to do something for the kids,” Wright said. “We like to expose our kids to as many learning experiences as we can while they are with us for the summer.”

Lally Bates shared that their main goal was to teach the kids respect.

The campers were encouraged to think of a few questions, and the veterans returned to the YMCA on Friday afternoon for a question-and-answer session with the kids.

“Many of these kids have never been taught anything about flag etiquette at this age. Every kid should know how to respect their country,” Bates said. “I was taught from a young age and served in the Korean War, and I want these boys and girls to understand what it means to live in a free country.”

The American Legion Douglas Glass Post 6 will be having a barbecue on Saturday, June 28, as part of the Peach Festival. The barbecue will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Clanton City Park, and proceeds will help with funding for the American Legion organization.