John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Toy Soldiers

Posted on June 18, 2010
When I was growing up, I was obsessed with toy soldiers.

I had armies of little Army guys and little German soldiers, who I would array in various little battles.  Unlike a howitzer, a well-shot rubber band would often serve as the artillery, and proved the temporary death of a many a little German dude.

One of my earliest memories was getting a Fort Apache set for Christmas.  It had little U.S. cavalry soldiers and little Indians, and it provided me with hours of fun.

I once used my revolutionary war toy soldiers to build a model of the Battle of Lexington and Concord for my seventh grade class.

These toy soldiers help me imagine history in ways that books just couldn’t match.

Toy soldiers are making a comeback, chiefly because of the great kids' movies in the Toy Story movie series.  My son is going to catch the opening of Toy Story 3 this weekend with a few of his classmates.

A school in Providence, Rhode Island obviously hasn’t got the message about the importance of imagination in the development of a boy’s brain.

Here is a story from the Associated Press:

“PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Christan Morales said her son just wanted to honor American troops when he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and small plastic Army figures.

But the school banned the hat because it ran afoul of the district's zero-tolerance weapons policy. Why? The toy soldiers were carrying tiny guns.

'His teacher called and said it wasn't appropriate,' Morales said.

Morales' 8-year-old son, David, had been assigned to make a hat for the day when his second-grade class would meet their pen pals from another school. She and her son came up with an idea to add patriotic decorations to a camouflage hat.

Earlier this week, after the hat was banned, the principal at the Tiogue School in Coventry told the family that the hat would be fine if David replaced the Army men holding weapons with ones that didn't have any, according to Superintendent Kenneth R. Di Pietro.

But, Morales said, the family had only one Army figure without a weapon (he was carrying binoculars), so David wore a plain baseball cap on the day of the pen pal meeting.

'Nothing was being done to limit patriotism, creativity, other than find an alternative to a weapon,' Di Pietro said."

The people who run this school ought to be fired.  And they ought to be banned from ever teaching again.

What exactly does this episode teach the kids?

It doesn’t teach them about history or about guns or about patriotism.

It teaches them the same lesson that kids learned from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

It teaches them that grown-ups are really, really, really stupid.

Any fool knows that little toy soldiers that have little toy guns are only a threat to little babies and dogs who might decide to eat them.

Any fool except for Kenneth R. Di Pietro.

This kind of bureaucratic non-sense drives me crazy and makes me fear for the future of this country.

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