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Each year the little patriots impress the King City Lions Club members who come to hand out American flags

BARBARA SHERMAN - On June 14 in the Durham Elementary cafeteria, King City Lions Club members hand out American flags to all the first-graders, a decades-long tradition that starts with the young scholars studying the American flag and learning patriotic songs ahead of the event.Kids have been in the news recently for winning Spelling Bees and Geography Bees, and if there was an American Flag Bee, Durham Elementary first-graders would no doubt cinch that win.

For decades Lions clubs have handed out American flags to first-graders annually, and the King City Lions Club makes the rounds to all of the Tigard-Tualatin schools each year to hand out flags and discuss their importance, but Durham in particular goes all out for the event.

The first-grade teachers teach the kids a lot of flag facts and songs so they are well-prepared when the Lions show up, which this year was June 14, appropriately Flag Day.

Several King City Lions Club members stood at attention in the cafeteria with the table in front of them adorned with about 100 small flags in stands as four classes of first-graders totaling 87 kids came in with their teachers.

After Jenny Goddard said that she has been teaching there for 17 years, and the Lions have come every year that she has been there, everyone joined in the pledge of allegiance.

Before the program continued, Fae Lloyd, a Lions club member, asked the teachers – Goddard, Jen Sullivan, Molly Haag and Ronna Marx – to come up to the front and presented them with an engraved plaque for all the years that Durham first-grade teachers have turned the event into such an important lesson for their students.

The kids sang several songs, which they had rehearsed to perfection and included "Grand Old Flag" and "This Land Is Your Land" before asking the Lions questions.

One student asked, "Why don't you come for every grade?" Lloyd answered, "We only come for first-graders."

Then it was time for the Lions to ask the kids questions, and they nailed every answer.

How many stars are on the flag? Fifty.

What do they stand for? The 50 states.

Do you know which number star is Oregon's? Thirty-three.

How many stripes are on the flag? Thirteen.

Why does the flag have 13 stripes? For the original colonies.

At that point, one of the first-graders asked, "Why are they called colonies?"

Lloyd answered that they were the original settlements that were the start of our country and later became states.

What colors are used on the American flag? Red, white and blue.

What do they stand for? Red is for bravery, white stands for liberty, and blue stands for loyalty.

Who sewed the first American flag? Betsy Ross.

When is the American flag's birthday? June 14.

What different names do we call our flag? Old Glory, Stars and Stripes, and Star-Spangled Banner.

"There isn't anything you guys don't know about the flag," Lloyd said. "And remember that no matter what we call our flag, it stands for America or the United States, which means freedom and equality for everyone."

As the kids walked by the table in single file to pick up their flags, Lloyd said, "Take this flag home with you. It is your flag. Put it where you can look at it every day. Be happy and proud that you have your very own flag."

And the 87 little patriots walked out of the cafeteria waving their flags and holding them high with smiles on their faces.

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