The Blaze Oped: Patriotism: Out of the Mouth of Babes

September 30th, 2016
Star Trek fans may remember an episode of the television show in which viewers learn that two human-looking alien life-forms—one a child, the other an adult—have reverse roles. On the planet in question, it is the child with the wisdom of age and the adult with naive innocence.


At the drop of the hat, we see the media playing up stories depicting various societal ills of an America in turmoil. We read about citizens criticizing police, making allegations of racial prejudice and taking revenge upon innocent victims, or we see well-paid professional athletes naively refusing to stand for the national anthem of a country which, while imperfect, has done so much for so many in the war for equality.


But sometimes buried away in the news are stories that should be giving us hope and cause us to reflect upon the fact perhaps we, as adults, need to be listening—as did the alien life-forms in that Star Trek episode did—to the children.


Take the case of Ameya Sanyal—an African American high school student at Madison Memorial in Wisconsin.


On August 29, Sanyal attended a three-hour school board meeting at which many citizens opposed a three-year renewal of the district’s contract with a security company providing uniformed and armed police at several schools. Harping on the theme minority students were being targeted, these citizens argued the money would be better spent on other student services.


After allowing the adults their say, Sanyal—who attended the meeting as the non-voting board representative for over a thousand students—raised her hand to speak.


But, unlike the adults who testified, Sanyal had done her homework. She had visited other schools in the district to solicit the opinions of many of her peers. Armed with that knowledge, she noted, “Our officers are the best of the best,” praising their ability to help mediate disputes and to use specialized training—unlike their teachers—when situations escalated.


Sanyal suggested it was important too for there to be more transparency on what security officials are doing to help parents understand why they need to remain involved.


Sanyal ended with a plea. As a person of color, she said, I “will feel highly unsafe without an officer” around.


What a difference—if one takes the time to acquire it—a little knowledge can make!


Meanwhile, in Michigan, we hear what a freshman high school football team did on its own after the national anthem was not played before their game.


The national anthem and football games at any level are so inter-related, it is inconceivable a game, without the anthem, would ever be played. But when the visiting Lapeer Lightning football team lined up on the sideline for the anthem before playing Carman-Ainsworth High School in Flint Township, Michigan, they were told by the game announcer the anthem, for whatever reason, would not be played. So, team members began singing it on their own.


The team’s initiative in doing so caught its head coach, Bryan Sahr, completely by surprise. He said he was super-proud of the team and that their singing the anthem made “me incredibly emotional and I don’t usually get emotional.” Apparently the host team and its supporters also got emotional, cheering the opposing team on as they concluded their rendition of the anthem.


And, finally, one other story that pulls at the heartstrings involved a kindergartener in Sante Fe, Texas.


Royce Thompson was late for school. After his mother dropped him off, she closely watched him as he raced towards the school entrance, only to stop dead in his tracks. His mother encouraged him to continue on in or he would be even later for class, but Royce refused to budge.


A police officer then shouted out to the mother to explain why Royce stopped—the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a prayer, was being recited over the loudspeaker. Royce said the pledge and then bowed his head for the prayer. He concluded with the words, “Thank you, God. Thank you for giving me a wonderful day.” But even more remarkable was that Royce saw his vigil all the way through to the end, undaunted by the fact other kids were passing him and not respecting the pledge and prayer.


Yes, America, there is a seed of patriotism being nurtured by a generation too young to vote but wise enough to recognize what makes this country truly great.


If only adults could heed what our children are telling us.

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