By Julia LeDoux, Pentagram Staff Writer June 21, 2013
ARLINGTON, Va. - The fourth graders from Barcroft Elementary School stood silently and reverently as six Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall marched in lock-step and stopped in front of the Arlington, Va., school's flag pole June 14.
With precise moves, the Marines lowered the American flag that had been flying proudly on the pole and replaced it with a new one that had been flown over the Marine Corps War Memorial in honor of Flag Day.
"It's our honor, on behalf of the commandant of the Marine Corps, to be able to share something that's very dear to our hearts," H & S Battalion Commanding Officer Col. Ira M. Cheatham told the students.
"You may not know this, but the United States of America's flag, 'Old Glory,' we take everywhere we go."
Cheatham continued by telling the students that if they see an American servicemember overseas, "you better believe that 'Old Glory' is with us, no matter where we go. Whether it's in battle or whether it's to help somebody. 'Old Glory' goes with us because it represents the United States."
He then asked the students if they had said the pledge of allegiance that morning. "Yes," came the response.
"What did you say the pledge of allegiance to?" he asked.
"The flag," came the answer.
"So many people say the pledge of allegiance every morning and sometimes they don't think about what they're saying," Cheatham noted.
He told the students that for them the pledge means that they're going to do their best in school and grow up to be productive, law-abiding citizens.
"To me, when I pledge allegiance to the flag, I want to make sure that I protect your right to be able to go to school, to go to playgrounds, to do everything you want," explained Cheatham. "When I say the pledge of allegiance to the flag, I look at you, because that's who I'm trying to make sure I'm taking care of and when you grow up and you pledge allegiance to the flag, you're going to do the same thing for the kid's coming behind you."
Cheatham presented the school's retiring principal, Miriam Hughey-Guy, with the new flag.
"It gives me great privilege and pleasure to receive this flag today because this is the last time as principal I will be receiving the flag from our absolutely magnificent business partners, our long-time friends, the Marines at the joint base," she said. "On behalf of all the children, of all the community, you have touched our hearts and I thank you very much."