Every heart beats true ‘neath the red, white and blue – although some people apparently see overt displays of patriotism as offensive to immigrants and refugees.
George M. Cohan probably never thought about adding that coda to his patriotic anthem “You're a Grand Old Flag,” and the Iowa high school students who donned red, white and blue to support their men’s basketball team last week probably didn’t think about their actions being controversial. But the patriotic garb worn by some Valley High School students on Wednesday upset students at Des Moines North High School, which is described as being more diverse and full of refugee families.
“Any normal person, any educated person can look at that and think, ‘What the hell are these kids thinking?’” North High School assistant coach Morgan Wheat told WHOTV.com.
Now, North High basketball coach Chad Ryan is speaking out -- and says it's possible the opposing team's fans may not have had sinister intentions. "What I will say is we’re proud of our diversity at North High School — not only on our basketball team, but our population."
Valley High School’s student council responded to the hullabaloo by sending an apology letter to Des Moines North students.
“It has been brought to our attention that the decision by the Valley High School student section to wear U.S.A. apparel at our game last night was offensive to members of your community and fan base,” the letter, obtained by the Des Moines Register, began. “We are deeply sorry if we have offended anyone in any way.”
The letter continued, “We have traditionally dressed in such a fashion for great games such as the one last night. Everyone here at Valley has immense respect not only for your team and players but for your community as a whole. Please know that our intent was in no way to offend or demean – just to support our own team in a way we have done before.”
The students had dressed in patriotic-themed clothing on at least one other occasion this school year, during a football game against Dowling Catholic that was witnessed by WHOTV.com.
And though Valley ended up submitting the apology letter, it would only serve as consolation for Des Moines North; Valley won the Wednesday basketball game, 57-55.