An American flag is a symbol of patriotism, but for Colleen Brown, the flag now flying above her school has a much more personal meaning.
Lisa Soloff, principal at North Harlem Elementary, and Colleen Brown show the flag that was sent to the school by Colleen's mother, Dee Brown, who is stationed in Iraq.
Photo by Melissa Hall
"My momma," said Colleen, a third-grader at North Harlem Elementary School.
On Wednesday, Colleen presented an American flag to Principal Lisa Soloff during the school's morning news broadcast. The flag was flown Nov. 21 in an A-10 Thunderbolt plane during Operation Iraqi Freedom from Tallil Air Base, Iraq.
The flag was sent by Colleen's mother, Army National Guard Sgt. Dee Brown, who is serving with the 878th Engineer Battalion in Iraq. Colleen's 19-year-old brother, Christopher Shannon, also is in the National Guard.
"This is just a small token of the great appreciation I feel for you," Brown wrote in a letter to Soloff. "Thank you so much for taking care of my little girl and making her school experience the best it can be. I thought this would be cool for the school to have!"
Colleen, who hasn't seen her mother since she deployed June 1, is living with her grandmother, Sue Shearouse. Colleen recently went to Fort Gordon for a videoconference visit with her mother.
"I told her my little kitten was 3 months old," she said, demonstrating how she accidentally held up four fingers. "She laughed."
Soloff said the flag will be meaningful to the school, which has about 15 to 20 pupils with family members in Iraq.
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