At my elementary school patriotism was important. Every year Westridge Elementary School put on the Patriotic Program and it was a big deal. Each grade prepared songs and there were occasional small group numbers starring people like Annelise Dejesus, etc. The gym was packed all the way back to the cafeteria and there was fancy looking sound and light equipment. To my young mind it was the most important thing that happened at our school. I remember Miss Broadbent would direct us by raising her hand up or down depending on how the pitch of the song changed. My favorite Patriotic Program was in 2nd grade when we painted paper grocery bags as camouflage costumes for our performance of the anthems of each branch of the armed forces. "Over hill, over dale, as we hit the dusty trail, and those caissons go rolling along." "Anchors away my boys, anchors away. Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day, day, day, day." And so forth. I'm sure those that participated still remember it.
But our patriotic instruction didn't stop at celebrating the USA. The administration made sure we knew just how bad our freedom-hating ideological opponents were by holding "Communism Day." This was our chance to learn what life might be like in a communist country. We must have had Communism Day just once or twice because I only have a few specific memories of it. At lunch you didn't get to choose from the menu--you were assigned at random. And you had to be very quiet in line. I was disappointed to be assigned pizza because I hated the cafeteria pizza. My other specific memory was of recess. Instead of having free play we were forced to stand in a circle and do whatever some teacher said--because everyone knows communists don't let kids play. The end result of all this was me being convinced that communist governments controlled every aspect of their citizens' lives--a lot like in A Wrinkle in Time come to think of it.
The irony of all this is that when Taliatha asked her college roommate from Russia if they hated Americans or were taught how our country was bad she couldn't remember anything of the sort. I have heard however, that kids in China were told to eat all of their food because the poor capitalists in America were starving. Meanwhile we all had Rocky IV to teach us how bad the Russians were. When we played soldiers Americans vs. Russians was not uncommon. Do any of you fellow Westridge alums remember anything else about Communism Day? If you didn't attend Westridge how did your family or community make sure you knew the commies were bad?