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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Tradition of U.S. Color Guard includes people carrying weapons

The Civil Air Patrol and Young Marines were asked to provide a U.S. Color Guard during a recent Sept. 11-memorial ceremony at Kenai Middle School. In 24 hours, these kids were able to put it together, practice and perform the honor with pride. This, indeed, is a great honor. Color Guard details are given to the best individuals in any organizations, whether it is military, law enforcement or otherwise. During wars, the bravest were given this honor during battle. The U.S. Color Guard consists of the "colors" (U.S. flag), flag or flags identifying the unit and armed guards that guard the "colors." This honored tradition is usually seen leading Fourth of July parades, or when the "colors" are "posted" and "retrieved" to open and close ceremonies or meetings.

The U.S. flag stands for freedom, freedom of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," not only here in these United States, but also worldwide. The armed guards stand for the protection of these freedoms because, as we should know, these freedoms are not free. It stands for men and women in our nation's history, military and otherwise, who have and are bearing arms and sacrificing their lives to protect these freedoms, to protect the "colors." The armed guards in these color guards usually carry weapons. The CAP cadets and Young Marines carry white, mock wooden drill rifles. Unfortunately, Kenai Middle School did not allow them to bring their mock drill rifles. The U.S. Color Guard had no representation of the armed protection it needs. What saddens me more is that this school should be teaching these histories and these traditions. It didn't. It saddens me that auxiliaries of our military services like the CAP, Young Marines and some concerned parents may be the only ones that teach these traditions. It shouldn't be.

The school failed in this instance to teach our kids why we have armed guards at our airports and armed U.S. troops on TV. It failed to tell the kids the need to carry guns because evil people are always trying to take our freedoms away. It failed to teach them that someone had to stand against these evil persons so they can go to school in peace.

Troops with guns put their lives on the line daily for our kids. Across our nation, police bear arms so our kids can be safe. Why then did this school not allow this peaceful Color Guard to bring in the mock drill rifles and represent our troops and police officers?

I've learned that since the Columbine incident, our schools have adopted a "zero tolerance for guns" agenda. Fair enough. But, does it include images of guns in schoolbooks and other school materials? I doubt it. Should it bar an armed U.S. Color Guard? What if it's just mock, wooden drill rifles?

David Q. Douthit, a Soldotna High School graduate, made the ultimate sacrifice. He was killed in action during the Persian Gulf War while protecting these "colors" and the freedoms they represent. Don't deny him his rightful place on the U.S. Color Guard. He, the peninsula veterans, and I demand it.

Please change this policy. Let's not cheapen the Color Guard and what it represents.

Will Schwenke, CAP volunteer and Gulf War veteran



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