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HOUGH THEIR AGES MIGHT SPAN DECADES, young students learning about the American fl ag, transitioning servicemembers searching for civilian careers, and veter- ans in need of a helping hand all feel the impact of MOAA chapters’ community service work.


Flag education In 2013, the Sarasota (Fla.) Chapter (www.sarasotamoaa.com), in part- nership with the Sarasota County School Board and numerous other local organizations and agencies, introduced an American fl ag initiative to educate schoolchildren, the general public, and local businesses about the origin, history, and meaning of the American fl ag; the importance of patriotism and respect for the fl ag; and proper protocols for the fl ag’s display and retirement. Maj. Nino Nistri, USAF (Ret),


treasurer of the Charter Oak (Conn.) Chapter (www.moaa.org/chapter/ charteroak), read about the Sarasota Chapter’s fl ag education program in the November 2014 issue of Military Offi cer, and it sparked his interest. “I thought it was a very good idea,”


62 MILITARY OFFICER OCTOBER 2016


he says. “I’m a patriotic person, so I brought the idea to our chapter.” With the support of fellow chapter


members, Nistri got to work research- ing and contacting school districts in his state. Connecticut statutes do not require an American-fl ag curriculum; they only mention displaying the fl ag in classrooms and students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Nistri says this makes the chap-


ter’s initiative a challenge because “schools have to fi t it into the cur- rent curriculum and the teachers have to take the time to learn the 10 lessons, which are very detailed.” But he persisted and continued to


reach out to schools trying to con- vince them to adopt the program. Last spring, when the state was working on adopting new social studies cur- riculum frameworks, Nistri proposed


the idea to Manchester Superinten- dent Matthew Geary. Beginning this fall, the Manchester school district will incorporate a weeklong lesson about the fl ag into a new social stud- ies unit, “Fighting for Independence: The Struggle for Independence,” for fi fth-grade students at nine elemen- tary schools. “About 600 children will take this course,” Nistri says. “I feel good about that.” His goal is for Connecticut school-


children to develop a sense of pride about the American fl ag. “I hope they have a deeper appreciation when they see [it] at a baseball game — a fl ag that has been draped on the coffi ns of presidents, raised over Iwo Jima, and gone to the moon. That’s something pretty special.” He also hopes it might inspire some of the students to one day serve their nation.


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