Jackson Twp. Elementary School had American Hero Day in observance of Sept. 11, yesterday. Patriotism was the word of the week.
Lt. Col. Kip Clark is with the 113th Fighter Squadron of the 181st Fighter Wing from the Indiana Air National Guard out of Hulman Field. He was the first speaker of the day.
"Patriotism comes from the root word, patriot," Clark explained to the excited second graders. "A patriot is someone who loves, supports and defends his or her country," "Do we have any patriots in here?" All of the children raised their hands enthusiastically.
Clark showed the kids his flight helmet and explained how it worked. He passed it around for the children to examine as he continued to talk about his chosen career. Their interest was evident from the relentless questions they asked.
"Have you ever flown a Blue Angel?" one boy asked.
"No," Clark replied, then quizzed back. "Do you know what kind of airplane that is?"
Expecting to hear, an F-18, he was a little surprised when another boy answered quite seriously, "A blue one."
The hands raised and waved fervently, wanting to ask more questions.
"Do you do tricks with the airplane?"
"No, not officially" Clark responded.
"Don't you fly upside down sometimes?" another queried.
"Yes, sometimes, but that's part of the training to learn maneuvering."
The questions continued. One asked if the wheels always stay out. Another wanted to know how you stop an airplane.
The teacher, Mrs. Adamson, questioned Clark.
"If any of the kids wanted to be a pilot, what should they do and when should they start preparing for it?"
"They should start today," Clark answered. "Study, make good grades. Learn how to discipline yourself."
Clark then questioned the students. "How do you know if you have patriotism? What does it feel like?"
For the first time since the program had begun, the kids were quiet.
"I feel proud when I say the Pledge of Allegiance," Mrs. Adamson offered.
"How many of you have ever cried during the National Anthem?" Clark asked.
When most of the children raised their hands Clark explained, "That's a feeling of patriotism. We can thank the patriots who went before us for giving us the freedom to do what we want to do. Not every country has those freedoms."