- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2005

When Kathryn Stickler decided to organize a September 11 memorial at her school, she thought the administrators would be thrilled. The junior at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Mich., wanted to plant 3,000 small American flags in the schoolyard honoring those who were killed in the terrorist attacks.

But when she approached school officials with the idea, their reaction surprised her.

“I was immediately shot down,” Kathryn said.

She said administrators told her that 3,000 flags was too many and suggested that 30 was a better number. Kathryn disagreed and decided to procure the flags on her own. She searched the Internet for phone numbers of local American Legion members and asked them to donate flags.

“She felt it was very important that we honor each one of the victims,” said Kathryn’s mother, Lesley.

Kathryn persuaded members of the Farmington and Milford American legions to donate more than 3,000 flags. But when she returned to school administrators, they still disapproved of the project, Kathryn said.

“They said it was a fire hazard,” she said. “That sounded ridiculous to me.”

Kathryn then headed to the Farmington fire department and spoke with an official, who she said assured her that the memorial would not be a hazard.

However, school administrators were not swayed.

“They presented all these problems and I fixed them, and it still wouldn’t work,” Kathryn said.

She said a school official told her, “We don’t want to step on people’s toes who don’t believe in the Iraq war.”

After a tense meeting with Kathryn’s father, Bill, administrators conceded and permitted the memorial.

“Poor Kathryn just got caught up in the start of school,” a school official said. Administrators “really did not thwart Kathryn or her group of student volunteers,” the official said.

Kathryn and her family felt differently.

“People are afraid to show their patriotism,” Mrs. Stickley said. “They think it’s uncool, or they may offend someone.”

Kathryn, for one, thinks it is very cool that her 3,000 flags flew on school grounds yesterday.

“When people lose their lives, you need to memorialize them,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what side of the party line you stand on.”


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