We hear a lot about branding these days from celebrities and businesspeople, and more recently from “influencers,” social media sensations who have figured out how to make money by “influencing” others, usually to buy something.
Branding is nothing new. The term has Germanic origin and found its use in Middle English to convey burning a mark to denote possession. The concept is applied in many ways throughout history — makers’ marks, family coats of arms, logos, etc.
And then there are flags, perhaps the most visible emblem of a governmental state. There is a host of regulations that guide the use of many flags, particularly the U.S. flag. Sadly, many Americans have scant knowledge of the U.S. Flag Code. Even some officials will decree the flag is to be flown at half-staff when there is no authority to do so. However well-meaning their intent, there are regulations to follow.
Recently, a group of fourth-graders at Jerry Lee Faine Elementary School in Dothan was studying the history of Alabama when one student, Lyriq Caldwell, read that state law requires an Alabama state flag to be flown at every school property when school was in session. Classmate Devin Flowers looked out the window to find that there on the flagpole waved the Stars and Stripes, but no state banner.
The youngsters were dismayed. Their school was in violation of the law. Their teacher, Amanda Smith, recognized an opportunity to extend the lesson. She had the children research who serves as their state legislator, and the class crafted a letter to state Rep. Paul Lee explaining their concern over the school’s lack of a state flag.
Lee responded by showing up at the school last week to meet with the youngsters and present them with an Alabama flag.
It’s refreshing that young people are learning about the nuances of our state’s “branding,” as well as how to take steps to address something they believe needs correction. Smith’s students surely now know more about flag regulations than the average fourth-grader, and now know a bit more about problem-solving. And they can say they’ve met a governmental official, who responded to their constituent interaction.
We commend these students, as well as Smith and Lee, whose involvement made this a valuable lesson the youngsters won’t likely forget.