A Virginia high school principal is standing by a group of Virginia high school students who enraged some of their peers when they started flying the American flag from the back of their cars (video below).
"It was like walking through a tunnel of flags," Godwin High School student Colter Mahon, who joined in and flew the flag from his sedan, told WRIC. "When you're walking on the sidewalk and looking at all the cars and people who did that, it was amazing."
The students began flying the flags as a sign of support for their classmates who were enlisting in the military.
"Freedom isn't free," said participating Godwin senior Joseph Baskette, whose father is a veteran. "We know what it takes, we know what it costs and we are very thankful that these students are signing up to go and fight for us."
Not everybody was pleased to see the flags and the message behind them, though. Baskette said that a number of students complained about the demonstration, but it only made more students want to join in.
"After school, [I] went to Lowe's and put about 3 more flags on my friends' cars," said Baskette. "I helped them get those on."
Student Jovon Hughes said that the growing number of students rallying around and displaying the flags "was actually the talk of the day."
"[The flag] represents so many things," said Mahon. "Equality. Independence. All the stuff that our forefathers and all them worked for and that means a lot."
Despite the complaints, Godwin Principal Leigh Dunavant decided to defend the students and sent an email to parents on April 28 explaining the growing trend and stating that the school would stand behind students who wish to fly the flag.
"I really think that she did the right thing in supporting the students," said Baskette's father, Jody Baskette. "I just loved it. It doesn't get any better than that. These kids have done it themselves and that's really, really a patriotic symbol of what this country is."
Old Glory has sparked controversy in the past at high schools and has not always won the battle. In August 2016, a South Carolina school banned displaying the flag at a football game, saying that students were going to use them to taunt a visiting team, a school with a large Latino population, according to CBS Sports.
The school's principal, Lou Lavely, said in a statement at the time that the school banned the flag and would do so again any time it was to be used in an "unsportsmanlike manner" that would jeopardize "the safety and well-being" of those in attendance.