New flags to wave proudly in classrooms

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 21, 2021

 Richard Elementary School Principal John Kernan is joined by several  students as they raise the school flag during a Constitution Week program Sept. 17.

Richard Elementary School Principal John Kernan is joined by several students as they raise the school flag during a Constitution Week program Sept. 17.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The Louisa St. Clair Society chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution kicked off Constitution Week — Sept. 17 to 23 — in a special way this year.

On Sept. 17, members of the chapter took part in a flag dedication ceremony at Richard Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Farms. The chapter is purchasing nearly 30 new flags for each classroom in the school.

Richard underwent a complete interior makeover during the summer, but in the process of preparing for this work, school officials discovered that their classroom flags were shabby and in poor shape. The old flags needed to be discarded, as a result.

Joined by DAR members, the entire student body took part in a brief morning program Sept. 17 in which students read aloud the preamble to the Constitution and helped Richard Principal John Kernan — who was coincidentally celebrating his birthday that day — raise the flag outside the school.

“We’re very excited, and we hope that every time you say the Pledge of Allegiance and look at the flag (in your classroom), you’ll be proud to be an American and you’ll think of us,” Deann Newman, chair of the Louisa St. Clair chapter’s Constitution Week, told the students.

Newman was joined by DAR Recording Secretary Barb Davis and Peggy King Scully, the past chapter regent.

King Scully called the event at Richard “a watershed moment” for DAR because they typically don’t get a chance to conduct events at the schools.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to share who we are and what we do with the community,” King Scully said.

Besides classroom flags, DAR donated Constitution Week information packets with small bells for each of the students, which they would be receiving at the end of the school day. At 4 p.m. Sept. 17, Newman encouraged the students to ring their bells with their families.

“This afternoon at 4 o’clock, you’ll hear bells ringing all over America,” Newman said.

Members of the public without a bell can use a bell phone ringtone, King Scully said.

The DAR members were all wearing red clothing items or accents because Fridays are Remember Everyone Deployed days, King Scully said.

“It’s a tribute to our deployed military,” she said.

The flag donation was one of a number of ways the local Daughters were marking Constitution Week. They also placed small, labeled bells throughout the community for residents to ring on Sept. 17 and encouraged mayors and other civic leaders to sign proclamations encouraging the reading of the Constitution, among other activities.

“There are two documents of paramount importance to American history: the Declaration of Independence, which forged our national identity, and the United States Constitution, which set forth the framework for the federal government that functions to this day,” said DAR President General Denise Doring VanBuren in a press release. “While Independence Day is a well-recognized and beloved national holiday, fewer people know about Constitution Week, an annual commemoration of the living document that upholds and protects the freedoms central to our American way of life.”

DAR launched the observance of Constitution Week in 1955, getting Congress to adopt a resolution naming Sept. 17 to 23 as such. It was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Aug. 2, 1956.

Kernan said the Constitution speaks to shared national values. The gift of flags was a reminder of the values of kindness and willingness to help others that the school encourages among its students.

“The flags are a great part of it, but it’s more about reminding the kids of why we’re here … and being a kind person and holding onto those values we hold dear,” Kernan said after the ceremony.

The former classroom flags at Richard likely aren’t the only ones in need of replacement. As part of what has become an annual tradition, the Louisa St. Clair Daughters is also collecting tattered and worn-out flags that people have at home for proper disposal. Flags from residents of any city can be dropped off in a drop box at Grosse Pointe Farms City Hall, 90 Kerby Road, or Pier Park, 350 Lake Shore Road in the Farms, in advance of the flag retirement ceremony at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at Pier Park. The ceremony, which is open to the public, will be led by the Children of the American Revolution and the Boy Scouts of Troop 96.

King Scully said the Richard classroom flags are on backorder from the manufacturer and will likely arrive in November.

After the success of this year’s flag event, DAR members are considering making this an annual program, going school by school in the district.

“I think this is something we might want to do for the other schools,” King Scully said.

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