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1917: Cuckfield School hoists the Stars and Stripes in recognition of America joining the War

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 10 July 1917


The Old School at Cuckfield, in more senses than one, has broken new ground, for on July 4th—the 141st birthday of America —the Stars and Stripes were officially hoisted on the flag-staff with very appropriate ceremony.

Dull and threatening weather had decided that the celebration should be postponed, but the arrival of several American ladies, anxious to see Old Glory up aloft, and to hear American songs sung, cancelled the decision, and the celebration, somewhat curtailed, was put through.

The stars and stripes hoisted at Gorleston Great Yarmouth School in 1968 (photograph courtesy of Eastern Daily Press)

At the start Mr. Herrington gave a brief address, telling why the Flag of a Republic was being hoisted. He particularly hoped the children taking part would never forget that day, for he ventured to prophesy there was not one school in Great Britain or Ireland that would dare to do what Cuckfield would do that afternoon. Cuckfield would not have done it either if he, the speaker. had not been on the other side and learned the lesson which had borne fruit by having these patriotic celebrations. He had long wanted an excuse to do what an American reporter said he had done eleven years ago: "taught the villagers to salute the Stars and Stripes." Now America had come into the war he had the excuse.

The Vicar (Canon Wilson) had set the example by carrying "Old Glory" with the Union Jack in procession at church, and that which was right at church could not be wrong at school. Conducted by Mr. Rapley, the senior children sang America's national hymn, "My country, 'tis of thee," to the tune called "America" on the other side, but "God Save the King "on this side. It was never sung to any other tune in U.S.A. Then came the "kernel" of the whole ceremony. The flag was raised, and Mr. Herrington called for raised right hands while words of greeting, welcome and salutation were repeated.

Though speaking to the flag they were really speaking to America, for it represented America.

1. "Flag of the great Republic across the Atlantic—Old Glory—whose stars and stripes stand for bravery, purity, truth, and union, we, children of the Motherland—Greet thee.

2." Flag of the great Republic across the Atlantic, because your presence here is a sign of friendship and goodwill, we, children of Sussex—Welcome thee.

3. "Flag of the great Republic across the Atlantic, since you have come to help us in our struggle against tyranny, oppression and the sword, and to uphold the cause of Freedom and Liberty, we, Cuckfield children —Salute thee."

Then, at the word of command "Flag Salute," all formally saluted.

Naturally, the next song was "The Star Spangled Banner," sung (not for the first time) by Cuckfield children. Among the visitors was the Rev. E. V. FENN (Vicar of Kirkby, formerly Curate of Cuckfield), who gave the Union Jack still in use. At the request of Mr. Herrington he came forward and gave a brief address. He referred to bygone celebrations, particularly when Australia's flag was presented, mentioned why America had to come into the war, stated he was glad to meet again Cuckfield children and Cuckfield friends, and hoped no one would ever forget the day.

Next came the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Mr. HERRINGTON said the words were among the finest ever written. The tune was well known, for we had sung it in the past to "John Brown's knapsack in number ninety-nine." On the other side it was never sung to any other tune, so those who thought the tune was not appropriate must blame U.S.A., not him.

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, He hath load the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword, His truth is marching on."

Mr. Herrington referred to the plantation melodies, grave and gay, which the West had given to the East, and said four would ha sung—" Yankee Doodle," "Uncle Ned,” "South Carolina" and "Marching through Georgia." Two generations of children had passed through the school since these songs were last sung, he added, so people must not imagine no other type of music was studied. Those who were present on Empire Day knew that, and an older generation had not forgotten the Palace concerts. Hearty applause followed the spirited rendering of these songs.

The Rev. J. H. LAYTON moved a hearty vote of thinks to Miss Berly, who lent the flag, and to the School for its singing. Cheers were called for, especially three for "Old Glory" hanging above. The National Anthem concluded the ceremony.

Special praise should be given to Standard I. for their flag salutations and marching. Mothers present had to watch them all the time. It was also pleasant to see a company of Girl Guides in uniform. Their numbers at present are few, but will certainly increase. With the men away there is plenty for Girl Guides and Boy Scouts to do. May they have wisdom and strength to get busy, and see it through!

For more on the American School in Great Yarmouth please follow the link.



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