The Immaculate Conception Knights of Columbus Council hosted its annual Flag Day ceremony Friday with a special event that taught students about the country’s banner and celebrated Tuskegee Airmen.
Three members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviation unit in U.S. history that battled against the Nazis during World War II, were honored during the ceremony in Astoria’s Immaculate Conception Church along with other military members in front of a crowd of students from the church’s school.
The event was seen as a more effective way to teach youngsters about major points in United States history.
“It brought history to life,” said Eileen Harnischfeger, principal of the school. “It’s so far removed from them. My father was in World War II so it was very real to me. This brings history to life for them. It’s a wonderful way to learn history.”
The ceremony began with a flag raising tribute in the courtyard of The Holy Union Convent, and then moved to the lower level of Immaculate Conception Church for the award presentations and speeches.
First-graders from the school made custom U.S. flags keeping in tune with the holiday, which falls on Sunday, and sixth-grade students researched the Tuskegee Airmen.
Organizers hoped the lessons from the event would help the students better understand what it means to be American.
“We’re a predominately Caucasian school,” Harnischfeger said. “The children come from many different backgrounds but we don’t have many African-Americans. I think it’s important to know about discrimination and what we fought for in this country.”