Since a politician told this story, I am not sure how true it is, but the message is good.
I have a friend who's a schoolteacher at the Robinson High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her name is Martha Cothren. She's a social studies teacher and a coach on the side. Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren did something that I'll never forget. Martha, on the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, took all of the desks out of the classroom.
The kids came into first period, they walked in, there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, "Ms. Cothren, where's our desk?" And she said, "You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn them."
They thought, "Well, maybe it's our grades."
"No," she said.
"Maybe it's our behavior."
And she told them, "No, it's not even your behavior."
And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in Ms. Cothren's class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom. The last period of the day, Martha Cothren gathered her class. They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. And she says, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily." She said, "Now I'm going to tell you."
Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. And by the time they had finished placing those desks, those kids for the first time I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks.
Martha said, "You don't have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it's up to you to sit here responsibly to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don't ever forget it."
My friend, I think sometimes we forget that the freedoms that we have are freedoms not because of celebrities. The freedoms are because of ordinary people who did extraordinary things, who loved this country more than life itself, and who not only earned a school desk for a kid at the Robinson High School in Little Rock, but who earned a seat for you and me to enjoy this great land we call home, this wonderful nation that we better love enough to protect and preserve with the kind of conservative, solid values and principles that made us a great nation.