A major debate has been sparked over public displays of patriotism after a 13-year-old boy was asked to remove a Stars and Stripes flag from the back of his bicycle by his school.
The young boy, Cody Alicea, has flown the flag from his bike while rode back and forth to school every day for two months, in a gesture of support for the United States armed forces, of which his grandfather is a veteran.
Veterans Day – the US equivalent of Remembrance Sunday – was last week, but Mr Alicea was asked by hs teachers at Denair Middle School to remove the flag. Citing the risk of creating racial tension, and fearing a repeat of incidents that broke out earlier in the year when a group of Hispanic students at the school raised a Mexican flag for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Mr Alicea agreed to remove the flag for the sake of peace, but he soon lodged a complaint about the request, saying that:
“[Cody] should be able to fly the flag wherever he wants because this is the United States and this is the American flag.”
After the controversy reached the media and drew criticism from a wide range of groups, including organised patriots and civil liberties groups, the school issued an immediate apology and said Mr Alicea was free to display the flag on his bike.