Archived Story

We all make mistakes, don’t we?

Published 11:56am Thursday, September 1, 2011

I’ve always believed people should try to make the best out of a bad situation. It’s a good “rule of thumb” that makes a lot of sense. Sometimes, however, the rule’s use by someone facing controversial circumstances can be very hard to appreciate, especially when emotions are running high.

For example, this past week we all learned the principal of Jim Pearson School decided to paint over an American flag composed of children’s handprints that was originally designed to be a tribute to the victims of the Sept 11 attacks. Apparently, the painting was faded and in really bad shape. Not knowing the significance of the art, the principal made this decision in order to spruce up the appearance of the school.

Unfortunately, this was a bad choice. It’s never a good thing to destroy a memorial to victims of a vicious attack on our homeland, especially one that was created by children. However, I’m certain there was no political or ideological motivation to this act. The most we can say is the principal wanted to make the school beautiful, and in the process didn’t do enough research to make a wise decision in this instance.

Over the past few days, the Outlook has received several emails and letters essentially condemning this mistake. Some of the words used to describe the situation are “outrageous,” “appalling” and “feckless.”

Although I certainly understand the emotions being expressed in these letters, my hope is that these good folks would find it in their hearts to forgive someone for making a mistake. After all, we all make them from time to time.

Furthermore, it’s my understanding that Jim Pearson School has decided to create a new memorial by taking a picture of current students wearing red, white and blue in the shape of an American flag. This photo will be on display at the school, essentially renewing the original tribute on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Some people may think this response is too little and too late, simply a way for school administrators to minimize criticism. To a certain extent this might be true.

Still, renewing the tribute at this time is an excellent way to make the current students of Jim Pearson aware of the meaning and significance of the attacks. After all, none of them were alive in 2001. For all we know, this might be the first time they will hear that something of historical significance occurred on Sept. 11. Their participation in this renewal will be much more important to them than observing the original painting.

Also, this renewal will give all of us a chance to reflect on how these events have changed our country and our own lives, which is the true purpose of a memorial in the first place. This fact alone might be the most important consequence resulting from this episode.

To be sure, that’s a good thing.

I have no doubt the principal at Jim Pearson School would like the opportunity to go back in time and change the decision. But, that’s impossible. The only thing left is to try to make something good out of a bad situation. I believe this is being done.

My hope is the well-meaning folks of our community recognize the “rule of thumb” truism mentioned above is being applied and as a result make a little room in their hearts for forgiveness. After all, isn’t that what good Christian people are supposed to do?

Roger Steele is general manager and advertising director of The Outlook.