Bishop Edens is standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance now, his mom, Heather Page, told me on the phone the other day.
After getting crosswise with the principal at the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton junior high for not standing up during the regular recitation, he got sent home last Friday for violating school policy.
Bishop and school policy are apparently back in alignment, advocates of his Constitutional rights notwithstanding.
Tales of the shivering patriots that battled the British at Valley Forge?
Perhaps something like the steely resolve of National Guard tankers like my late grandfather: his three sons were about Bishop’s age when he was dispatched from Aitkin, Minn., to fight the Chinese Army in North Korea.
Bishop’s turning point might even have been a moment of mutual reflection with his mother about the meaning of liberty.
But what his mom told me about was a “particularly upsetting card” that “someone” had sent him at school, and that the school delivered to Bishop.
It was apparently one of many.
“I never thought that people would be so cruel,” said Page in an email later, asking to put the matter to rest. “Some of the comments and letters that we have received have been derogatory and extremely mean. I can not be assured at some point that my son won’t be the target of a worse act.”
She didn’t want me to talk to Bishop and she didn’t want to elaborate any more on the matter.
I would venture to guess this, though: that the reaction of Bishop’s classmates was probably as indifferent to his patriotism as that of any other junior high kids.
If they are anything like the teenagers I’ve known or been, the discussion about the matter went like it always does – with a detailed and whispered analysis of the relative dorkdom of anyone who publicly expresses any heartfelt sentiment, be it patriotic, rebellious, romantic or in any other way authentically human.
I doubt, though, that many in the junior high student body bothered to address an envelope or rustle up a stamp to further that end.
That’s usually grown-up work.
Which means that the “teachable moment” for Bishop Edens unfortunately may have gone something like this: if you REALLY love this country and REALLY respect its flag, a fitting example of our nation’s lofty goals might be set by dispatching some hate mail to an 8th grader and his mom.