Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Flag was Raised

We raised the flag. A tradition which had been handed down from the time of the first flag pole at Franklin School. Now we were in junior high. It was our turn to raise the flag.

Normal Rhoades was an extraordinary teacher. She opened our world up in ways that most kids in those years seldom experienced. My sisters had her as a teacher those many years before me. When I reached the 8th grade, she was my teacher.

I'm not sure we realize what we have when we have it. For me the awareness of those wonderful things that happened to me, that were taught to me, seem to have eluded me until my later years. Maybe I just have more time to look back. Maybe my vision in looking back sees things differently, perhaps more clearly. Thus are my memories of the things that Normal added to my life.

I would never have held a real bow and arrow had it not been for this woman. I stood in front of the old brick school pulling back the arrow held close to my cheek. I remember that Normal showed me how to raise the bow up so I wouldn't embed the arrow into the ground. At least I wasn't going to hit some kid in the outfield or someone driving by the school. The release of the arrow. The feel of the power. I learned an art that required concentration. I know few other people who have had the experience of shooting at a target with a bow and arrow. I learned this at a country school. It was one of many lesson outside of the classroom.

Normal taught us to respect the flag. We were taught the rules of handling the flag. We learned that it was serious business. There was no playing around when we had flag duty. We were handling not just the flag but also our country. Normal knew how to make impression on her students.

At the end of the school day, two of my classmates lowered the flag. Slowly they folded the flag, handling it with respect and care. We learned the history of the flag and the reason for each fold. We learned what it is to be an American. A flag was raised, a flag was lowered.

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