Great American Heroes

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

When
I was a kid, I attended St. Patrick's Catholic elementary school
in El Paso, Texas. It was a good little grade school, which provided
me an elementary education that I am grateful for having. At the
time I wasn't always so grateful. I didn't like times tables or
sentence diagrams (I now owe my life to them). I failed penmanship
in 2nd grade with my atrocious handwriting. I failed
religion a couple of times with my stubborn nature. After learning
about Christ's simplicity in prayer, I felt I didn't need to know
the "Act of Contrition" or the "Nicene Creed,"
because Christ said the "Our Father" was sufficient.

However,
at the time there was one thing I did find enjoyable and I was sincerely
grateful. It was "Great American Heroes Day." Once a year
the school would have a competition with all the students. It would
entail picking a hero in American history and dressing up as that
hero. Students also had to write a book report and give a speech
in character as the American hero. The first year I was Babe Ruth,
where I wore cleats and brought a baseball bat. My mother suggested
I be the Babe, even though I always liked the Mets over the Yankees.
The next year I was Robert E. Lee. I wore a gray trench coat, colored
my hair white, and carried a plastic sword. I admired Lee for his
principled stand deciding not to betray his homeland of Virginia.
Besides, I was a Yankee the previous year. The last year of the
contest, I was the American farmer. I wore suspenders and carried
a pitchfork. That was the first year of Farm Aid and the plight
of the farmer was all the rage. At the time I couldn't figure out
how the farmer's plight was brought about, but now I know it has
a lot to do with the tax code and subsidies. I enjoyed Great American
Heroes Day and I still enjoy thinking about it.

Today,
if I were asked to portray a great American hero, I would portray
the American child. These children face a plight more ruinous than
the plight of the American farmer, and a force more dangerous than
Yankee bluecoats. Theirs is the heroic struggle against public education,
political correctness, and just plain intolerance. In particular
I would like to portray this little five-year old:

"…in
Deer Lakes, Pa., a 5-year-old boy suspended for dressing as a
firefighter for his school's Halloween party. Part of his costume
was a plastic ax."

This
kid is my hero. This child had the audacity to portray his hero
for Halloween and defy a system of insanity. The plastic ax represented
a tool of his hero, used to cut through debris in a fire. This child
was persecuted for carrying the representation of a tool, which
defied the policy of Zero Tolerance. But surely, the administrator
had good cause thinking the tool represented a weapon that could
potentially kill. I guess he also suspended the kid, who dressed
up as Dracula, thinking that the fangs represented weapon used for
serial murders and rapes (maybe I shouldn't be giving administrators
any ideas).

My
next hero is T.J. West:

"Thirteen-year-old
T.J. West was suspended for violating Kansas' Derby Unified School
District's zero tolerance policy against racial harassment and
intimidation when he drew a replica of the confederate flag on
a scrap of paper. The flag was listed as a prohibited symbol of
racial hatred."

This
kid had enough guts to draw the Confederate flag despite the fact
that he may face harassment and intimidation from the powers that
be. He was "just a good ol' boy, never meaning no harm"
until school administrators got a hold of him. To intimidate is
to frighten into compliance or submission. It is hard to show that
a kid drawing a flag on paper is a form of intimidation.

My
final hero to portray is:

"An
11-year-old fifth-grader permanently banned from an elementary
school in Oldsmar, Fla., for drawing pictures of a gun;"

This
guy is probably my favorite hero because he was permanently banned
for his artistic interest in guns. The boy must be a grave threat
to the system if he draws pictures about inanimate objects. The
administrator must think he may potentially one day bring in a gun
and shoot people. It's kind of funny to think that we live in a
society that will not tolerate a kid drawing a picture of a gun,
and completely tolerates a police force that draws guns on innocent
people with regularity.

I
admire these kids for living in a world that I could probably not
survive in as a kid. If I took my behavior as a child and applied
it to today's nanny-state, I may not have made it. I probably would
have ended up weak, submissive, and dumb. In my previous portrayals
of American heroes alone, I would have been suspended, reeducated,
and eventually expelled. The cleats, baseball bat, plastic sword,
and pitchfork may have been used to injure or kill students and
teachers. The gray trench coat would invoke a "hostile"
classroom environment with the potential to conceal firearms. Besides,
the trench coat would be insensitive to the victims of Colombine.
Speaking of insensitivity, my portrayal of Robert E Lee would be
insensitive to minorities. With that and my Dukes of Hazard lunch
box, I would need some intense sensitivity training. Since I'm very
rebellious by nature, they would have to drug me with a lot of Ritalin
to take care of my "attention deficit."

My
violations of political correction and "nannyism" are
not confined to my portrayals in Great American Heroes Day. My entire
life as a child is in violation, from the games I played to the
pictures I drew. Let's take a look back at some of these atrocities
I committed in my youth.

In
the game department, "wall ball" was one of my favorites.
With a tennis ball we would throw the ball from a certain spot in
the playground against a wall. If you missed the wall, you would
have to run to the wall and touch it. If someone else picked up
the ball and beamed you with it, you would face the dreaded firing
squad. The firing squad was the best part of the game. In it, the
kid would have to stand against the wall with his back to the others,
while the others took a turn at hitting the kid with the tennis
ball. If you missed during the firing squad, you became an object
of the firing squad as well. Today, such a game would be condemned
on the basis of safety and sensitivity.

Another
condemnable game was "smear the queer." In this game,
whoever carried the football, would get tackled by the others. It
was fun trying to avoid a bunch of tacklers with no blockers. Of
course this game would be seen as too violent and insensitive to
homosexuals.

Other
games included cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, guns, and
BB gun wars.

In
the insensitive sing-song department, a favorite of mine was our
version of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Today, this
song would definitely expel me from school, as it is a gross violation.
It went as follows:

"My
eyes have seen the glory
Of
the burning of our school.

We
have tortured all the teachers,
And
have broken all the rules.

We
have fired all the cooks,
And
have burned up all our books.

Our
truth is marching on!

Glory,
Glory, Hallelujah!
Teacher
hit me with the ruler.
I
put a hand grenade
In
her glass of lemonade.
She
aint my teacher no more."

Today's
educators would see this as threatening, causing a "hostile"
work environment to teachers and cooks. "This kid may end up
burning the school down or grenade his teacher. Much worse, this
kid is assuming all teachers are female and such remarks are sexist."
While today's teacher is worried about sensitivity, yesterday's
teacher would be more worried about the grammar of the song, and
as we all know from good English teachers, "aint" is not
a word. It may be a safe bet to say that as our humor erodes, so
does our intelligence.

In
the safety department, my noncompliance would stretch from never
wearing a bike helmet to playing tackle football without pads or
a helmet. Today, if you don't wear a bike helmet the cops will tackle
you to the ground, cuff you, and give you a citation, all in front
of your mother. I admire the kid who went through that experience
in Florida; he is another one of my heroes.

Finally,
in the picture-drawing department, I've drawn weapons ranging from
AK-47's to light sabers. I would have been thrown out for my third
grade book report about Paul Revere and the Battle of Lexington
and Concord. For the cover I drew a minuteman carrying a musket.
Today's teachers probably would think I would intend to liberate
the school from the tyranny of absolutism, with such a picture.
The teacher might be right and such subversive thought would be
definite grounds for expulsion.

Of
course expulsion from government tyranny is what all men of freedom
seek. So I say to my heroes, do not be discouraged by suspension
and expulsion. Look on them instead as medals in the pursuit of
liberty. Any child, who can persevere and maintain a childhood spirit,
through such a system of tyranny, is my hero.

Which
leads us to end with a warning for the anti-heroes creating this
struggle:

And
Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of
them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and
become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of
heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little
child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso
shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But
whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me,
it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck,
and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
(King James
Bible: MAT: 2-6)

November
29, 2002

Casey
Khan [send him mail]
works as a risk analyst in Phoenix, AZ, where he lives with his
wife.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare