Last spring, Randolph-Macon Academy teacher Commander Julianne Cochran, USN, Retired, approached Front Royal Giles B. Cook American Legion Post 53 representatives about putting American flags in each classroom. The Post members were quick to agree to support their local Air Force Junior ROTC school, and over the summer, they purchased 51 brackets and American flags to be installed at both the R-MA Middle School and the R-MA Upper School. Sergeant-at-Arms Lalit ¨Pip¨ Piplani, the Post Adjutant John Kokernak, and Commander Cochran completed the installation in August.
All of this was done quietly, without the students’ knowledge. On September 11th, the cadets learned how all of the flags had suddenly appeared in their classrooms, as Mr. Piplani and Mr. Kokernak, along with the Post Commander, Mr. Rick Kinsey, visited R-MA to complete a formal presentation of the flags to the cadets.
“We are truly grateful for the generosity and patriotism of the members of Post 53, and we thank them for their continuing service to the United States of America,” Commander Cochran said during the ceremony.
Mr. Kinsey spoke briefly during the ceremony, pointing out that Post 53 was committed to supporting the local community, and one of the ways in which the Post does that is through flag donations/postings–not just in schools, but all along Main Street in downtown Front Royal. He thanked the R-MA staff for supporting the installation of the flags, adding, “I hope this is one of the first of many ways that Post 53 can support and assist the staff and cadets at R-MA.”
The cadets expressed their appreciation through their applause, and several later noted the difference it made in the classrooms. “I was extremely grateful for their donation because it adds color to the classroom while reminding me of the love I have for my country,” commented Vice Group Commander, Cadet Major Benjamin Kopjanski, a senior at the Academy. Operations Officer Cadet Major Citlaly Sosa, also a senior, added that the flags provided,”a sense of patriotism.”