Old Glory is on the rise at local schools.
The Star-Spangled Banner is hoisted on 30-foot flagpoles each morning at 7:30 a.m.
Some of the flagpoles are a gift from Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization that presents flags and flagpoles to public institutions.
They serve as a gathering place for rotating class officers who are charged with the responsibility of raising the flag at the beginning of each school day.
“It’s an expression of our liberty,” explained Ronald
B. Cantley, a retired Raleigh County principal and former classroom teacher. “We started raising the Stars and Stripes several years ago and now it has become a tradition. Raising the national emblem has become a unifying experience among the students and educators.”
The former WWHS principal added, “We are hoping that our students will find a deeper meaning in Old Glory when they see the flag waving in the wind each day in front of their school.”
The patriotic exercise is no gimmick, either.
Hoisting the Colors each day symbolizes the American lifestyle for the students—governing laws, armed forces, public education, and family relationships.
“It means a lot to us in the way of reflecting our national identity,” Cantley said. “If anything, it serves as a reminder that we are all threads in a national fabric, all part of a much larger community with a common heritage that goes back some 250 years.”
The flags flying in front of area schools, representing the U.S. and the Mountain State, are large banners, and the task of raising them each morning requires several participants to get it done.
And when it comes to the American flag, class officersand honor students go the extra distance in maintaining and caring for the national standard.
“We folded the flags every evening in the traditional three-corner hat shape and placed them in a plastic case so that our students could do the ceremony of unfurling and raising the banners in each morning,” explained Sam Interdonato, a retired social studies teacher at WWHS and 4th Degree Knight of Columbus at St. Frances de Sales Catholic Church in Beckley.
“It’s a solemn activity. We treated it accordingly.”
The flag of the United States of America should always be treated with respect and dignity, according to Interdonato.
But many Americans seem unaware of flag-flying etiquette when it comes to caring for the sacred national emblem.
“It’s disappointing to see an American flag left on a pole day and night in all kinds of weather until, after a few months, one’s gaze falls upon a torn, tattered, and soiled rag,’’ the proud American explained. “We don’t do that at our institutions.”
The ceremony of raising the flag is nothing new for Mountain State students.
“If anything, we’ve created a sense of duty among the class officers and honor students. It’s something they must do every day,” Interdonato said.
The former history teacher also explained that the spectacle of raising Old Glory each morning before school is a way of paying homage to previous generations of Americans, those who fought and died for freedom.
“Our national symbol represents various things to different people,” he went on. “One of the most cherished values of the American Flag is that it fosters the idea of brotherhood and national unity. And when the President orders flags to be flown at half mast, it’s a sign of extreme reverence and veneration for the person who has died.”
Interdonato also noted, “Many of us live our lives under the Red White and Blue, but we seldom take the time to appreciate its significance until there is a war or some other crisis that we must deal with.
“When the Star-Spangled Banner is raised to the rhythms of our National Anthem—with all the color, majesty, and symbolism—and the lyrics accompanying all those broad stripes and bright stars—it signals a love for our country.
“It makes me proud to be an American…”
Top o’ the morning!