WAXAHACHIE — Utilizing their first amendment, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and WNGA World Geography teacher Lisa Minton share something in common.
Within the midst of the controversial Kaepernick movement of kneeling during the national anthem, Minton and Waxahachie VFW post-Commander Randy Hughes have devised a plan to inform students on what the flag, the national anthem and pledge of allegiance truly mean to those who have served.
“We run the Veteran’s Day program held at the high school each year in November," Minton said. "The freshman student council is the base and they’ll be the ones that introduce the speakers, the band will perform for them, the theater classes will have a production for it and the choir sings."
Veterans from across Ellis County are invited to attend the annual WHS Veteran’s Day event.
“We try to reach out and teach the students that the world is bigger than them and that those veterans fought for their freedom,” Minton said.
Rather than just putting on a Veteran’s Day event, Minton and Hughes have coordinated another way to get veterans and the VFW involved within the school district.
“Something new going on this year is that we are working with the VFW. The director, Randy Hughes, and I are getting ready to bring in a veteran every other month or however often possible to talk to the students,” Minton explained. “They will teach historical pieces such as defining freedom and applying it to something. We want the students to have a name and face to remember when they stand and put their hand over their heart for the pledge and the national anthem.”
She, as well as Hughes, believe that veterans speaking with the students will shed a whole new light on their respect towards the military, veterans and national symbols.
“I saw on Facebook where a teacher brought a veteran in because he felt as if his basketball players were not respecting the flag and the national anthem. He brought them in, had them stand in front of a player,” Minton said. “This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to have them come to Tribe Time and tell the story of why the flag is important to them and what freedom means.”
Minton is hopeful that this tactic will encourage less push back from citizens.
“I want them to see what it all means to the people who fought for them. After the veterans speak, the students will have a face and a name to remember when they look at the flag,” Minton said. “I think everybody here understands that we are responsible for the future of this country.”
Hughes has been the VFW Post Commander since July 2016 and is working towards getting the organization more involved in the school district and the community.
“Education may have changed, but I just know I want to bring this into their classrooms. We don’t teach our students all of the history that they need to know,” Hughes said. “There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to go into the classroom and teach these things. Thirty minutes and two veteran speakers can make all of the difference in the world.”
The commander shared that he does not understand Kaepernick’s idea of kneeling for the national anthem seeing that the flag represents America and the military — not the police force.
“Half of the students I know won’t listen to what we are trying to say, but it’s worth a shot,” Hughes said.
Bob Osborn, a WWII veteran and lifetime member of the VFW, felt strongly about the subject and is still debating whether or not he should speak to the students.
“If I were in charge of the students who weren’t standing during the anthem at the games, I would tell them we aren’t having a game tonight if they kneeled. If they don’t stand for the anthem, I wouldn’t want them playing. The whole thing irritates me,” Osborn said.
The 92-year-old veteran served in the military from 1943 until 1946, a year after the war concluded.
“Look at all those soldiers who went to war. The young ones who were in Iraq and Afghanistan and for what? Not a damn thing,” Osborn stated. “We went to war for this. For our freedom and our independence. That’s what the American flag stands for and if you don’t like it, get the hell out.”
Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL