Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Opinion: Disrespecting USA in school zone ... poor lesson for our kids

Artwork by Vietnam Veteran David Schulz (click to enlarge)
The following was submitted by Joan Liska, Middletown resident. 
See Editor's note, below, for more information on the artist.
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I am a proponent of freedom of speech.  I fully believe in the rights granted to us under our US Constitution.

For years I have seen this Middletown homeowner post his/her political positions on the front lawn and I have respected the right to do so whether or not I hold a similar or differing opinion politically.

However, this homeowner resides directly across the street from a grammar school.  This week the homeowner’s political discourse descended into disrespecting the very country that preserves our rights.  To display our American flag inverted is not only disrespecting our flag, our country, the veterans who fought to preserve our nation, and the citizens who are proud of this nation despite its political foibles, but this message also influences the formulating young minds in the neighboring school.

Photo by Cassandra Day, from Middletown Press article
on the Memorial to Vietnam Veterans, drawn by Schulz.
Our laws do not permit me to remove these inverted flags, but I can speak out to encourage him or her to be cognizant of the lesson of disrespectful this message sends to young children and to remove them willingly.

Joan Liska
Middletown resident

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Editor's note: 
The offending artwork was created by a Vietnam Veteran and noted artist. 

David Schulz was honored in March of this year with the City's Annual Arts Advocacy Award, given to "those who have significantly contributed to the cultural and artistic enrichment and/or have shown extraordinary support and initiative for the arts in our city".

Schulz' haunting portraits of veterans is a memorial mounted in the council chambers at city hall, it includes the names of nearly 500 veterans from Middletown who served between 1961 and 1975, whether in Vietnam or elsewhere.  For more on Schulz and the memorial, see Middletown Press Article or the Hartford Courant Article.

Disclaimer: Schulz' work has been featured in The Eye: 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fairly certain an upside down flag means the country is in distress and isn't disrespectful at all...I find bathing suits made up of American Flag prints to be much more disrespectful, but to each their own...

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Joan:

As another regular contributor to the Middletown Eye, I want to thank you for taking the time and effort to comment on something you have found in our community that has disturbed you. I will point out, again, that Schulz is a veteran, drafted to fight in Viet Nam. I'm certain, he understands the sacrifice and courage it takes to fight for the freedoms outlined in our constitution. I think he also understands what the American flag is, and is perfectly capable of rendering it. Those things on his lawn are flag-like, but not flags. He also likely knows that an American flag displayed upside down signals significant distress. I can't speak for David (and I'm sure you will see a reaction by David himself), but I believe he thinks the country is currently in significant distress because of our questionable leader. Finally, I wouldn't worry about the display being across from an elementary school. It is, after all, summer, and school will not be in session for another month. From my own perspective, I have always enjoyed David's roadside commentary, and his current editorial is as thought-provoking, and necessary as the times demand. As a soldier he fought for freedom-of-expression, and as an artist he is practicing it. May the debate rage on.

-- Ed McKeon

hattie said...

Ed, You said it so well I feel no need to comment further except that as for it being across from an elementary school, it may provide impetus for discussion and learning. As I was reading this to my husband, also a Vietnam veteran, he was finishing your sentences before I could read them.

Anonymous said...

BOE member Lisa Loomis has been kneeling during the pledge at the BOE meetings and at the MHS graduation when a student sang the anthem. A true champion hero of free speech . I would like to see the Eye publish her letter . Shame the press didn't put her on the front page. An advocate & leader of LGBT rights as well .The Eye should celebrate her stance like Shultz.

Anonymous said...

Kids are in camp at Farm Hill all summer.

Anonymous said...

What a great lesson for anyone, let alone kids in grammar school. We need to teach young people it is alright to voice their opinion and to speak up, especially in times of great distress. What a great vehicle for starting an important conversation - isn't that the point?

“I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” -James Baldwin

Thank you, David.

hattie said...

Kudos to Lisa Loomis!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure nobody has used the term 'grammar school' since 1980

David Schulz said...

Didn't know this was here until a friend mentioned it last night. I was a drafted soldier who spent a year as a radio operator in an Infantry battalion in Vietnam. During that year i realized that not only was it wrong for us to be there, but grasped the fact that the old white men who sent us there, didn't really value our lives. They dumped us into a war that was nothing more than a pissing contest with the Soviet Union, with the people of Vietnam as the victims . Since my return in March of 1969 I have railed against our federal government for sending young men and women in harms way, in wars of choice that had nothing to do with our countries survival. I started the lawn signs when GW Bush and Dick Cheney, who should both be in prison for war crimes, lied the country into attacking Iraq, a country who had nothing to do with 9/11. There was a lot of yahooing around the country for this stupid attack, and I thought there are other people like me who disagree with this war crime from our President, so I started the signs to let them know they were not alone. As you obviously know the wars of choice have not ended. As to the children, I have been very careful about what I write. I have also had parents who tell me their children insist they drive past our house so they can see any new ones. And yes I do think this country is in distress. A bully moron in the White House who is determined to destroy everything from the air we breathe, the water we drink, our entire environment, our very soul as a country. I care about what my grandchildren have to look forward to. Our countries' present leadership seems to only be interested in destroying it all. So we have the duty to resist. As to the flag and disrespect, it should never be displayed flat or horizontal which means all those giant flags the size of football fields and basketball courts are actually breaking the law.
David Schulz