For most of the fall of 2018, you couldn’t see the American flag at the school where I work.
Each day, my students, teachers and I recite the Pledge of Allegiance on the playground together. We face the American flag in front of our school as it waves proudly over the campus, back-dropped by our canyon’s hills.
It’s a truly moving and patriotic experience each morning for me, but guns have prevented us from seeing our flag.
By presidential decree, our flag was at half-staff for two weeks due to horrific acts caused by guns ... and you can’t see our flag when it’s at half-staff because it’s hidden behind the school.
We get to look where the flag should be while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance together — more than 500 children, staff and families painfully reminded that because of guns people are dead.
There are mornings I don’t know how I make it through the pledge staring at that empty flag pole.
What is the most unsettling, however, is that this has become the new norm. It should be a shock to look up and see that flag missing, but now I see first-graders not even mystified.
I hear comments like, “Oh, more people must’ve died.” Then the conversation changes smoothly to what game to play at recess or whether or not they brought their homework.
How can this be our new norm? When are we, as a country, going to figure out that this is not OK? I’m tired of hearing that now is not the time to react. I’m tired of 2nd Amendment arguments. The very word — amendment — means change. So, why don’t we?
I know we can change. We are demonstrating this right now as citizens pass legislation throughout our country to protect the lives of unborn humans. When are we going to be bold enough to bring about change to protect those of us who are alive?
Until then, I have to keep wondering if enough people were killed in Virginia Beach to even warrant our flag at being at half-staff, and then to see if my students talk more about loss of life or whether they’re playing kickball at recess.
Daniel Di Mundo
La Cañada Flintridge
What happened to “Tree City USA,” La Cañada Flintridge? Will La Cañada’s last 200-year-old protected tree be chopped down so someone can build a driveway? Will the La Canada Flintridge Planning Commission learn that development is not always the way to a more beautiful, more livable city?
These are questions to ask each time a homeowner is permitted to remove an inconvenient tree by glossing over rules designed to protect it.
To seems to me that La Cañada currently allows homeowners to shop for an arborist who will support their application to remove a protected tree, and then also cut it down — which I believe is a conflict of interest.
We need a new pro-tree approach to stewardship and protection of our native trees.
We need to reform the process of tree-removal applications.
Let’s go back to using a city-hired and applicant-paid independent arborist — one who does not do tree removals. Let’s change the tree-removal application process to a more-stringent variance process. Let’s require redesign/mitigation measures first, with removal as a last resort.
Over 35 years in La Cañada, I have seen our tree canopies degraded. Each protected tree that is cut down makes it easier for the next one to be lost. Let’s speak up, as a community, for better protection of our silent giants.
La Cañada Flintridge