Brent Taylor and Aaron Pettit are known as the “flag men” at Cotter High School. Each morning the two high school seniors raise the red, white and blue American flag that flies over Cotter High, and each afternoon the young men take the flag down for the night.
Brent and Aaron started their routine on the first day of school when their teacher asked who wanted to raise the flag. Both young men will now admit that their chief reason for wanting to raise the flag was to leave class for awhile. Over the course of this year though, Brent and Aaron have come to see the importance of the task they perform each day. What started out as a way to leave class has now become a duty both men take seriously and are honored to perform.
On Veteran’s Day, Brent and Aaron lowered the flag to honor our men and women in uniform. The simple act of lowering the flag to half mast has given the two students reason to pause and absorb in the enormity of what they are doing. Their allegiance is not only to Cotter High School, but even more to the heroes that have sacrificed so much for our country.
A few weeks ago, I received a letter from Brent, Aaron and Cotter’s principal and superintendent. The letter explained the young men’s efforts and also requested a new flag for the Cotter High School gymnasium. The flag in the gym had yellowed with age so Brent and Aaron requested a bright new flag to better express Cotter High’s American pride. After reading the letter I called the school to let them know that I wanted to personally present Brent and Aaron with a new flag.
Yesterday, I went to Cotter and presented Brent and Aaron with a flag that was flown over the United States Capitol. The flag was flown on September 11, 2011 on the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Too often, July 4th is the only time many Americans raise the flag. Too often we take our freedoms for granted. Brent Taylor and Aaron Pettit’s efforts can serve as an example for the old and young alike. These young men are part of what I hope will be a new generation of American patriots who do not take our liberty for granted and who will remember the sacrifices so many have made so that all Americans can be free. Let’s hope that all of America’s next generation can follow in Brent and Aaron’s footsteps.
Brent Taylor and Aaron Petit lowering the Flag at Cotter High School