School's Display of N. Korean Flag Raises Veterans' Ire

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The North Korean flag hanging at Diloreto Elementary School in New Britain, Conn., could be taken down this week if the local school board agrees with one of its members, who contends that the banner is offensive.

School board member James Sanders Sr. said he was appalled when he saw the flag hanging in the school's cafeteria recently—especially in light of President Bush's recent labeling of the country as part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union Address.

"I'm a veteran of the Korean War," Mr. Sanders said, "and I think it is a slap in the face to everyone who served there."

The flag of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the Communist state of North Korea is formally known, was purchased five years ago along with flags from about 75 other nations when the principal decided to make global studies the theme of the magnet school, according to Assistant Superintendent Ronald Jakubowski.

"It's very decorative," Mr. Jakubowski said. "Every classroom has a flag hanging outside its door."

Mr. Sanders said he could not persuade the superintendent to take the flag down, so he met with a local veterans' group to garner support for his cause. Whether the flag should remain in the 600-student school was debated at a school board committee meeting last week.

But committee members decided the final decision should be made by the full board of the 10,500-student district, located near Hartford. The board was scheduled to vote on the issue this week.

Many parents whose children attend the school advocated keeping the flag, contending that the display of banners celebrates diversity but does not necessarily honor a particular country, Mr. Jakubowski said.

But numerous veterans who attended the meeting disagreed. "They are flying that flag in an honorable place—a school," said Paul Maykut, the vice president of the New Britain Veterans Council and a veteran of World War II, who spoke at the meeting last week.

Mr. Sanders said the debate has served to remind the community of the Korean War. "Korea is called the forgotten war," he said. "But at least now people are talking about it, and it is something they won't forget."

Vol. 21, Issue 25, Page 3

Published in Print: March 6, 2002, as School's Display of N. Korean Flag Raises Veterans' Ire
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