By Todd Starnes
It seems like every day there’s a news story about a school banning the U.S. flag or a second-rate professional football player hating on America.
These days it’s not politically correct to say that you are proud to be an American.
So you can imagine my delight when a reader told me about a group of patriots at a Michigan middle school just a stone’s throw from the Muskegon River.
Boys and girls at Big Rapids Middle School gathered around the flag pole on Monday – the first day of the new school year.
A trumpeter played Reveille as they raised a crisp, new American flag. And then, a huge crowd of students and teachers began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Overwhelming,” is how Principal Mitch Cummings described the patriotic moment.
Video of the ceremony was uploaded to social media – and it spread across the fruited plain faster than Paul Revere on a midnight ride.
“Military veterans called and said how much pride they had and how they felt appreciated by that simple gesture,” Principal Cummings told me.
Teacher Mark Brejcha came up with the idea for the ceremony three years ago – a ceremony that has its origins in the military.
“We just duplicated what we do on military installations at the official start of the duty day,” said the sixth grade world geography teacher. “It’s a very moving, very patriotic moment.”
Mr. Brejcha served as a command chief in the Air Force for 30 years before getting a teacher’s certificate. And at the age of 54 he started his second career as a school teacher.
He says the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is important for young people.
“It teaches respect for our nation and our flag,” he told me. “When you see the flag flying you think about the sacrifices of those who have gone before – to give us the freedom to either say the pledge or not say the pledge.”
For the record, students are not required to stand for or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m sure that’ll please all of you Colin Kaepernick groupies out there.
“We have the freedom to stand and appreciate and recognize our country and that same country gives us the freedom not to,” the principal said.
How refreshing to know there is at least one public school that encourages and inspires patriotism in young boys and girls.
“I feel like our country is like family,” Mr. Brejcha said. “Family is not perfect, but family is very important. You take the good and the bad and everything else in between and you stand by it and you respect it.”
America needs more teachers like Mr. Brejcha – teachers with not just a passion for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic – but also for teaching about the red, white and blue.