JOPLIN, MO. A former Army drill sergeant has found a new batch of recruits. Their mission: not to be good soldiers, but to be good custodians of the nation's symbol of freedom.
Through the tutelage of Don Duncan, students at Joplin's Stapleton Elementary School are learning proper flag etiquette.
Two days into the school year, Heather Keeling's fourth-graders knew the first rule of flag etiquette.
"Don't let the flag touch the ground," the children said in unison when asked by Duncan.
The Vietnam veteran said disrespect for the flag angers him. He's bothered by those who do not remove their hats or talk when the flag is raised.
Duncan, the building's engineer, offered his expertise Stapleton's principal to help students learn flag etiquette. They will learn the meaning of flying the flag at half-staff and upside down, the signal for dire distress or extreme danger.
Duncan, who served eight years in the Army, said he and another Vietnam veteran at the school understand for what the flag stands.
"It means a lot to us," Duncan said.
Raising and lowering the flag has become a daily ceremony. Fourth- and fifth-graders will share the task. In the morning, children in lower grades will recite the pledge of allegiance as the older children raise the flag.
Keeling said learning flag etiquette was good for students.
Missouri law calls for a flag etiquette program in schools.