On a week when American's were marking the 11th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, it was only fitting fourth grade students at East Elementary were learning about patriotism.
As part of their lesson, students learned the proper flag etiquette, what each of the colors represented, among a number of other facts. By the end of the week, principal David Wiggins had been talked into forming a color guard that would become responsible for flag duties every morning and afternoon. In order to ensure the group knew the proper way to lower and raise it each day, Sgt. Jeff Warnke with the Cullman Police Department visited Thursday for a brief lesson.
"This is the first time in all of my years that I've had a principal call and ask for me to do this," Warnke said, who has been a part of the department's Honor Guard for roughly 15 years. He currently serves as commander. "I commend them for what they're doing. The guard is in good hands. Those four young people showed a lot of intelligence, and a lot of forethought of doing this."
Henry Cook was the one who initially approached Wiggins about the idea of a color guard.
"The conversation regarded our flag flying on the front lawn," Wiggins said. Some students wanted to know if Wiggens had taken it down or if he had left it up overnight. He told them he was unable to take the flag down the previous night due to other obligations.
Cook and his fellow students offered their services to properly care for our flag.
Cook's classmate Emma Seidel said she liked the idea of her school forming a color guard.
"I like America and I love my home town and thought this would be a good idea to help them out," she said.
Cook said he's hoping this will lead other schools to create a color guard.
"Others need to get one because it shows a sign of respect," he said.
While practicing with Warnke Thursday morning, Cook and Seidel, along with Kennedy Kruger and Walker Huddleston, properly lowered and folded the flag two out of three times, something Warnke said even his Honor Guard has a hard time doing.
"Our Honor Guard guys, we practice this a lot and for these kids to get it dead on twice out of three times is amazing," Warnke said. "... Because my guys, we don't do it that well."
Wiggins complemented the group on the leadership.
"I am absolutely proud and humbled for them to come and offer this step forward and to become leaders," Wiggins said. "Watching them is symbolic. I was overwhelmed watching them today."
* Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at email@example.com