When 13-year-old Denair student Cody Alicea questioned why he was told to take down the American flag off of his bicycle at school, he was standing up for his right to express his patriotism. Cody never dreamed his patriotism would take him all the way to the heart of the country — Washington, D.C.
Newly elected Congressman Jeff Denham, however, had other plans for Cody as he invited the student to be a part of his swearing in ceremony at the nation’s capitol on Wednesday.
“I admire Cody’s belief in the fact America’s flag stands for freedom and liberty,” Denham said. “I wanted him to join me during the official swearing-in and am assisting him in being a part of this historic day.”
Cody’s all-American adventure started when he stood up for Old Glory in November as he flew the American flag on his bike supporting the land of the free and the home of the brave.
He flew the American flag on his bike as he rode to and from his school — Denair Middle School — for two months as he was gearing up for a school trip to Washington D.C. Cody’s display of American pride was cut short though when a campus supervisor asked him to remove the flag because it might be creating “racial tension” and there were some concerns for his safety.“A school employee said some students have been complaining about my flag and I needed to take it down,” Cody said on Nov. 12, 2010. “So I took it down. I was kind of mad and upset because I have been flying it for two months and all of a sudden its veterans' week and it’s a problem.”
The removal of Cody’s American flag brought about national controversy and the school reversed their decision a couple of days later allowing Cody to once again fly the flag.
Between the controversy, TV cameras, and overwhelming response nation-wide, Cody didn’t have a chance to see the difference he made by standing up for his country’s flag.
But he realized how important his decision was to continue to fly the flag when he flew all the way to Washington, D.C. to be among those who run the country he stood up for.
“I met a lot of people there and they all knew me,” Cody said. “It was pretty cool. It makes me feel good. I really made a difference.”
Cody’s presence reminded people of his patriotic act bringing back the importance of the red, white and blue, but Cody also learned a lot about his country on his trip with Denham.
On his four-day trip he visited the U.S. Department of State, the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Capitol building, and U.S. Congress buildings. But the main part of his trip was witnessing a part of history with the swearing-in of the new representatives.
“I am proud to have a young patriot like Cody Alicea and his grandfather joining me as I was sworn in to the 112th Congress,” Denham said. “I too share Cody’s pride for the American flag and the great nation it represents. His patriotism deserves to be honored and I am excited he was able to share such a historic moment with me.”
And instead of learning about the government in school, Cody was able to witness it firsthand.
“(The swearing-in) was pretty neat,” Cody said. “It was uninterrupted. When it was business time it was business time. It is pretty complex how government works. I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
That might be the only time that Cody will witness the U.S. government working hard, but it will not be his last time in Washington, D.C.
He will be in Washington, D.C. again in March as he was selected as an honorable mention by the Veterans’ of Foreign Wars for their Voice of Democracy contest.
The VFW selects high school students and one junior high student every year to take a trip to Washington, D.C. and Cody was selected as a second junior high student to come along for the trip.
He will be flying to Washington, D.C. again for a school trip in May, the trip which started it all. He originally started flying the flag on his bike to get in the patriotic spirit as he was saving up money for this trip.
“This is neat,” Cody said. “Most people don’t get to go to Washington, D.C. three times in one year.”
With Washington, D.C. becoming his second home, it has given him the chance to reflect on his patriotic act and the courage to stand up for his freedom of speech in November.
“It feels important,” Cody said. “What I did was really important and kind of needed to happen. I am happy I did what I did. Thanks to everybody who has made this happen the way it did. This probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for my step-dad Robert.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.