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Letter: Hat ban is about respect

Editor's Note: This piece was originally written as a commentary piece for a radio station in Aberdeen, S.D. The author is a 1966 graduate of Morris Area High School and submitted it for publication.

The School Board in my hometown of Morris, Minn. recently voted to ban the wearing of hats in the school district's buildings. My opinion is that it's about time; but the truth of the matter is that problem should have been dealt with years ago. What the new policy actually says is that the "dress code disallows clothing including but not limited to...head apparel (hats, caps, skullcaps, etc.)"

I join at least one Letter to the Editor in the local paper and say "Hats off to the school board and administration for helping the youth learn, in a small way, about RESPECT!" Yes; respect! Removing one's cap or hat when entering a building; ie, a school, is common sense, common courtesy, a show of respect. It should have been taught by parents under the heading of "Good Manners," but then I will bet you that many, maybe even most "indoor hat-wearers" also lack other "good manners" as well. When I was growing up on the farm in nineteen-ought six or seven, we had a "hat rack" in the entryway, so did both my grandparents, my uncles and every neighbor I can think of; and that is where our hats could be found whenever we were in the house. If we forgot, which we occasionally did, we were sternly reminded and sent back to hang up our hat, pending our next trip outside.

And I remember well when I started going to junior high school in Morris, the one or two teachers who would meet us at the school door, reminding us to "walk don't run," "don't shove," and "take off your hat!" Common courtesy, common sense, respect! I also remember the one time, yes only one time, when I forgot to remove my hat, and as I bravely walked through the senior high hall I got a tap on the shoulder and turned to find one of my soon-to-be favorite teachers, a unique gentleman named Jake Marks. He asked me if my head was cold, reached up and took my hat off my head and handed to me. I took it. He smiled. I smiled and went on my way. I got it! While I don't remember for sure, it was probably soon after that that I quit wearing hats to school.

Years later, in the United States Marine Corps; one of the first things we were taught was how to wear our covers (hats) and then WHEN to wear them and when NOT to wear them. In the Marine Corps, your cover (hat) comes off the minute; no, the second you cross the threshold of an entrance into a building; UNLESS you are on guard duty or otherwise "under arms." Why? word..RESPECT! To show RESPECT! And then of course to show that we Marines were smarter than the Army; that we knew it wasn't necessary to wear our covers indoors! And something the Marines learned from the Navy, possibly the only thing the Marines learned from the Navy; if you wear your cover in a bar...they ring the bell and you buy the house a round!

Common sense; common courtesy..RESPECT...take your hats and caps and covers OFF when you are indoors; especially when you are in any of the Morris Area School District buildings. God bless you my friends and God bless the United States of America.