- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

The Supreme Court made our Flag Day. Their ruling means the nation’s public-school teachers will not be banned from leading their students in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Anyone with common sense realizes that the Pledge of Allegiance is a secular building block in the development of good citizenship. The words “under God” are a tribute to America’s constitutionally protected religious freedom, not a prayer. There is nothing wrong with schoolchildren acknowledging the fact that the founders of our republic openly stated in their writings before the Pledge was even developed: The United States is indeed “one nation under God.”

After President Bush justly directed the government’s attorneys to appeal the 9th Circuit’s ruling, I am proud to say that the American Legion filed a brief to the Supreme Court in support of the government.

We may not have heard the last from those who would rewrite constitutional law to make atheism the official state religion. Whenever and wherever challenges to the constitutionality of the Pledge will be raised, the men and women of the American Legion will be there, fighting with all of our legal and legislative might, to protect the right of schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

John Brieden, American Legion national commander

Washington

Dear commander:

As you know, the Senate Judiciary Constitution, civil rights and property rights subcommittee recently voted on a straight party line (five Republicans for, four Democrats against), approving a constitutional amendment to prohibit the physical desecration of the American flag.

The proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 4, goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I join you in urging members of the American Legion family to contact their senators who are on the committee and ask them to support passage when the full committee meets.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I want to thank you for the generous assistance you gave my daughter, Dorothy, in obtaining an “Order of the Blue Nose” certification card for me. I was one of nine survivors from the 34 personnel in the Navy Command Center on September 11, 2001. The replacement of the Blue Nose Card means a lot to me as an “old Navy guy” remembering a time in which our potential enemies were clearly identified and were not cowardly jackals who hijacked airliners to carry out their evil designs. I never thought I would give our Soviet navy counterparts any words of appreciation.

Keep up the good work in protecting the interests and obtaining justice for our veterans. Thank you. Respectfully,

Paul B.

Arlington

Dear Paul:

A special thanks also should go to one of my favorite flacks, Capt. Kevin Wensing in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. He spearheaded the effort to obtain your “blue nose special.”

Shaft kudos

The Sarge salutes the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNS), Learn and Serve for issuing more than $4 million in grants to support activities that teach students about and engage them in efforts related to the nation’s homeland security needs.

The grants will go to 10 agencies and nonprofit organizations, including six state departments of education, which will then make “sub-grants” to local organizations and education agencies. The grants are aimed at making tens of thousands of young people better prepared to deal with emergencies.

“These organizations represent the cream of the crop in terms of devising innovative ways to use America’s youth as a resource to plan for and respond to the health, safety, and security concerns associated with natural and manmade disasters,” said David Eisner, chief executive officer of CNS, which oversees Learn and Serve America.

“Young people often feel great anxiety when facing unknown dangers. Their participation in these programs should give them the knowledge and power they need to deal positively with those fears and to make an important contribution to the security of their communities,” he said.

The grant recipient groups will link community service to academic achievement, as a way to increase students’ awareness of potential dangers and prepare students, communities and schools for emergencies.

“The service-learning model can be an excellent means of training students in homeland security activities,” said Amy Cohen, director of Learn and Serve America. “These grants will advance our knowledge of the most effective ways to help young people get involved in a critically important issue to our communities early in life.”

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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