Over 2,000 students recently put on an “amazing display of youthful pride” in America at an Equine Education Day event in Nashville, Tennessee when a microphone malfunctioned during the National Anthem.
Jerry Harris, founder of the group What a Horse, told WTVC the first-ever “Equine Education Day” in mid-March was a big draw for students from across the state and beyond to learn about horses.
“It was a field trip for students from kindergarten through eighth grade with kids from all over Tennessee and even Kentucky,” he said. “There was over 2,000 kids.”
And while students learned a lot about maintaining and training horses, Harris said a problem at the start of the event was an eye-opener for him, as well.
Harris says during the opening ceremonies, Walking Horse trainer Herbert Derickson started to sing the National Anthem when the wireless microphone experienced a technical problem.
Instead of silence filling the arena, Harris says he was moved when all of the kids took over for Derickson and demonstrated an "amazing display of youthful pride."
The incident followed local controversy surrounding students at Antioch High School who were caught on video tearing down an American flag during a student walkout in March.
The walkout was allegedly aimed at honoring 17 people killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February, but videos posted to Facebook captured students in brawls and tearing down the American flag after ditching class, WSMV reports.
Harris said those types of incidents of students trashing the flag make the patriotic display at the Equine Education Day all the more significant.
“Especially when you see some kids disrespecting the flag,” he said, “it was just something special to witness those kids.”
Over the course of the past year, the flag, monuments, and guns have become symbolic markers in the wider culture wars. Dr. Ryan Olson, executive director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote an op-ed following the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville about the difference between weather and climate. He wrote, “Weather is variable and passing. Climate change is slower, largely invisible, and eventually far more determinative.... If politics is downstream from culture, then political events can only be grasped against this wider cultural horizon.” The invisible and deeper shared culture of these students was on display in their response to the technical problems during the singing of the National Anthem.
Teachers and students interested in knowing more about moral, character and citizenship education can find information and strategies at the UK's Jubilee Centre.