VALLEY VIEW — U.S. Marine Chuck Lewis grew up celebrating his country, its national anthem and its flag and has made it a point to reach out to as many students as possible in the hopes of keeping that sentiment alive and well. After trips throughout the valley to Arlee, St. Ignatius, Charlo and Ronan, Lewis visited Valley View Elementary on Wednesday, May 9, spending about an hour with students while delivering a Flag Etiquette presentation before retiring the colors for the day.
“Like with anything, you want to start at the beginning if you can ingrain it in them,” Lewis said. “The more you do it, the more it’ll stick with you.”
For years, Lewis has called around to various schools asking to give similar presentations, giving students the opportunity to appreciate the history and importance of the flag and what it represents.
“If it’s a high school government class, I can touch on the freedom of expression,” Lewis said. “Here, they’re visual and I try to make an impact with what I say. I just hope they remember it.”
In his presentation, Lewis showed a short YouTube clip of comedian Red Skelton breaking down the words of the Pledge of Allegiance very seriously. One of Lewis’ concerns was that students nowadays are simply going through the motions of saying the words, if they even do that at all. Some schools have cut it down to once a week while others have eliminated it completely. At the 2011 Super Bowl, Christina Aguilera forgot the words to the National Anthem.
Those are just a few of the issues facing the youth of the country these days, something Lewis is doing his best to halt.
“I love being able to share with them what I grew up on and how I grew up, which wasn’t a bad way to grow up,” Lewis said. “It gave me a solid foundation and this is a good way to keep that going. We live in the best country in the world.”
Before heading out with students to retire the flag for the day, Lewis walked the students through a slideshow while explaining the significance of the red, white and blue, as well as what it means to fly, hold or drape the flag in specific ways.
“Our flag is an important entity and people have died for it,” Lewis said.
To wrap up the day, students very carefully brought the flag down and folded it properly under the watchful eyes of their teachers, peers and Lewis. Without question, the students took away an understanding of the importance of the flag, the country and the songs that are held so dear to Lewis and many more Americans.