A Virginia teenager faced a dilemma when officials at Staunton River High School in Bedford County, Virginia, instructed him to remove two prominent American flags from his truck to continue parking in the school lot.
Christopher Hartless, valuing his right to display the stars and stripes, opted instead to leave the school and pursue homeschooling.
“My family fought for America and I feel like I should be able to represent the flag that they fought for,” Hartless told ABC13 News. “I don’t understand how it’s distracting if they have one on the flagpole that every other student can see.”
Christina Kingery, Hartless’s stepmother, expressed her support for her stepson’s decision.
“I told my son if this is what he’s believing in, then we are both going to stand behind him all the way… If they’re willing to change and let kids want to fly the American flag, then I’ll put him back in Staunton River… possibly put him back in Staunton River, but if they don’t, then I’m going to continue to let him fly his flags,” Kingery said.
“I think that every student doesn’t matter what you believe in, what flag you fly, as long as it’s not harmful and it doesn’t disgrace our country, you have the right to fly it,” she added.
The school, in an attempt to clarify its stance, responded with a message to parents.
“The student parking contract, which has been used by all 3 of our high schools for many years, states, ‘Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature,’” the school’s statement read. “Please be assured that we proudly fly the American flag throughout the school, and the Pledge of Allegiance is recited every morning.”
Bedford County, where the school is located, is home to the National D-Day Memorial. This memorial honors the American GIs who played a pivotal role in the invasion of France at Normandy on June 6, 1944, during World War II. Encyclopedia Virginia highlights the significance of the memorial, noting its impressive stone arch that stands nearly 45-feet tall.
The memorial’s location in Bedford holds symbolic weight, as the town experienced a significant loss on D-Day. Nineteen men from Bedford, all members of Company A, 29th Infantry Division, perished, marking possibly the largest per capita loss of any American town on that day.
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