After examining the Stars and Stripes at Cape St. Claire Elementary School, Jimmy Kelley decided that the tattered flag wouldn't do.
Kelley, 11, a fifth-grader at the school, first noticed the ragged condition of Old Glory while on flag duty in February. The country was fighting an air war against Iraq, and a tide of patriotism was sweeping the country.
"I said, 'Why don't you try getting a new flag?' " remembers Kelley.
The old flag had been ripped several times by a 30-foot pine tree a few feet from the flagstaff.
The flag looked dilapidated. Itwasn't right. If men and women were fighting and dying overseas to defend the country, there ought to be a more worthy flag. So Kelley decided to do something about it.
First he turned to fifth-grade chairperson and instructor Louis Solano, the person in charge of the flag at the school. After conferring with school officials, Solano told him that no money was available for a flag. With the school budget difficulties, money for a new flag was a low priority.
Kelley decided to seek outside sources.
Through his stepmother, the fifth-grader reached Mark Baumgardner, president of All State Alarm Systems in Glen Burnie, who immediately agreed to donate a flag to the school before even knowing the cost.
"He said that since there was no money in the budget, he'd pay for it," Kelley said.
The flag, which costabout $85, was given to the school a few months ago and now flies infront of the main entrance. At a special assembly yesterday, Baumgardner presented the new standard to Jimmy Kelley.
The fifth-grader says he likes to "study about America," citing science and social studies as his favorite classes. He earns A's and B's and is involved inmany school activities. In his spare time, Kelley collects stamps and coins.
He says he feels good about getting the new flag. Last week, he watched with a sense of accomplishment as it was hauled swiftly and respectfully up the staff.
"When you want something, keep ontrying until you get there," Kelley said.