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Home » School days, Stop Wasting America's Time

A SWAT for insisting on an incomplete picture

Submitted by on Thursday, 30 April 2009 2 Comments
News flash: Little boys tend to look up to their fathers. And little boys whose fathers are in the military tend to find everything about the armed forces fascinating. The uniforms, the rituals, the gear,the vehicles, the guns.

Yes, the guns. They're a part of military life, practically part of the solidier.

So it's perfectly normal for an 8-year-old boy who's assigned to do an autobiography to include a picture of his father as his hero. If that father happens to be a solidier, there's nothing at all odd about the picture including an M-16.

What was odd, though, was the reaction at Wiley Elementary School to third-grader's photograph of his father, a corporal in the Army Reserve. Officials at the Richland, Wash., school asked that the picture be replaced because the father held a rifle.

School staff thought a picture of David Henes in uniform without a rifle would be more appropriate for the classroom, Richland school district assistant superintendent Mike Kerby told the TriCity Herald.

Fair enough. Images of armed people are not fit for young children.

Except, of course, in cases when the district lets armed police officers on campus to shake the hands of young children and takes photographs of the event. And then places the photographs at the top of its Web site as part of a slide show.

Armed police officers, good. Armed soldiers, censored. Is it an anti-military or an anti-gun sentiment coming into play? Or is it just squeamishness about questions the picture could raise?

Does Daddy have a gun? Yes, he does. Has he shot anyone? No. Then why does he need it? Because he might have to protect himself from bad guys some day.

Yes, I've fielded all those questions and more. It's awkward, but it's life. We try to teach the guys that hurting people is wrong, period. Big Guy is not mature enough yet to understand the nuances beyond the good guys, bad guys scenario, and luckily he's not asking today. He will be on some tomorrow, though.

Perhaps the district's problem is its fixation that the rifle is a "weapon," which usually is thought of by its first definition, something used to inflict injury or kill. There is, however, a second definition: Something used to gain an advantage.

Or perhaps the district's problem is officials don't have enough to do if they have time to censor a third-grader's project. Wonder if they're also scouring history text books to remove pictures of military forces involved in any armed conflict. Wonder how they're going to explain Memorial Day this month.

Wonder if they could just get back to the matter of educating children and Stop Wasting America's Time by blocking students from depicting perfectly legal, legitimate activities.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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2 Comments »

  • Leslie K said:

    OH FOR HEAVENS….give ‘em a swat for me, will you?

  • Debra said:

    They’re not that far from here. Road trip!