WIESBADEN, Germany - One of the first things new Aukamm Elementary School Principal Debbie Parks noticed upon arrival was an empty space where a U.S. flag would usually fly over the school.
"When I came up here in May [Parks was principal of Garmisch Elementary School at that time] I met with key leaders and members of the Parent Teachers Association and School Advisory Committee. I asked them what improvements they would like to see," Parks explained.
After being told that having a flag fly over the school was an improvement needed, Parks said she turned to her husband, Col. Kendall Parks, who is currently serving with V Corps in Afghanistan, who donated a flag from his personal collection.
Days before school started at the Aukamm school, a large group of students reported to learn how to properly raise and lower the flag at the start and end of classes each day. Crystal Simpson, a parent volunteer, showed the recently recruited members of the Aukamm Flag Corps the procedures for rendering honors, folding and transporting the flag.
"My husband and I have always loved our country and our flag," said Simpson, explaining that as a former Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, she wanted to pass on her flag know-how so that the students would know how it's done correctly.
"I guess in the military community children have a different perspective -- especially since so many parents are deployed," she said.
"It's nice to serve our country," said fourth-grader Michael Stephens, who along with fifth-graders William Rupe and Daniel Hemphill, said they enjoyed the experience of doing something outside.
"My mom told me about it -- and it's fun," said Hemphill.
For the new Aukamm principal, the Flag Corps is also a way students -- especially those with a deployed parent -- "can make a connection with Mom and Dad."
Traditions such as raising and lowering the flag help them better understand the deeper meaning of what their parents have sworn to defend, she said.
"I think they need to have love of country and patriotism," said Parks. "We have certain traditions we can do and this reminds us of the sacrifices our Soldiers and our Soldiers' families make. It's a very symbolic thing they can do -- it reminds them of their freedoms and that someone died to protect them."
So the next time you pass by Aukamm Elementary School, take a moment to think about those still serving in harm's way -- and the Flag Corps students who have vowed to honor them every day.

Page last updated Wed August 29th, 2012 at 05:02