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Glenville-Emmons flag etiquette-teaching tradition lives on

GLENVILLE — Glenville-Emmons second-graders gathered with American Legion veterans, educators and a veterans service officer at Greenwood Cemetery in Glenville Wednesday to learn about patriotism during the week leading up to Memorial Day.

Bob Knutson, commander of Glenville American Legion Post 264, and Sherry Adams, retired second-grade teacher at Glenville-Emmons Elementary School, have organized the patriotic event for about 20 years, they said.

Adams said the event is a second-grade tradition in Glenville.

Students arrived at the cemetery to learn about appropriate behavior in a cemetery, respect for the American flag, the importance of the national anthem and the importance of veterans — past and present.

The students placed 255 flags on the graves of veterans throughout the cemetery.

Adams commented on how the children “beautify” the cemetery with their distribution of American flags.

“It just helps teach them a little patriotism,” Adams said. “We are hoping that it carries on.”

Glenville American Legion Cmdr. Bob Knutson and Freeborn County Veterans Services Officer Ron Reule present a plaque of gratitude to retired second-grade Glenville-Emmons teacher Sherry Adams at Greenwood Cemetery in Glenville Wednesday. Adams has encouraged patriotism in her classroom for the past 20 years. – Evelyn Seffinga/Albert Lea Tribune

Historically, local American Legion members would place the flags in the cemetery. The second-graders took over the task and have been a big help, Adams said.

“It got to be overwhelming and the Legion guys are older now and they needed help and we said, ‘What a perfect thing for (the students) to start to do to learn what this is all about and what Memorial Day is,’” Adams said.

Knutson also went to the Glenville-Emmons second-grade classroom earlier this week to educate the students on flag etiquette in preparation for Memorial Day. He showed the students what a veteran marker looks like on a headstone to prepare them to place flags on veterans’ final resting places.

“(Veterans) are in a unique category because only 1 percent of the population are veterans, and we protected the other 99 percent,” Knutson said.

Knutson, who donates many hours to veterans causes, wore a cap that read “Veterans Still Serving America” to the event.

“Sometimes we get focused on Albert Lea in the big city and we kind of forget about the little cities,” said Freeborn County Veterans Services Officer Ron Reule on Wednesday about local veterans.

Knutson drew attention to the disproportion within veteran participation in the United States by saying that 12 percent of the population in the United States is considered “rural” but 40 percent of the veteran population is raised in rural areas.

Adams was presented with a plaque by Knutson and Reule Wednesday at the cemetery.

Knutson and Reule also presented the second-grade class a plaque to thank them for their efforts.

Adams said she hopes the lessons second-graders learned will travel with them into adulthood.


About Evelyn Seffinga

Evelyn Seffinga covers education and arts and culture for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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