MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Retired Lt. Cmdr. Evangelo Morris had what some may consider a challenging task: teach 100 elementary school students the significance of the American flag while helping them better understand the Pledge of Allegiance and the weight each word carries.
Morris visited Cox Elementary School in Dade City, Florida, Nov. 9, 2015, and was met almost immediately by enthusiastic fourth, fifth and sixth graders.
From the beginning, the students were attentive. They raised their hands eagerly hoping to be called on next, offering their own thoughts and collaborated with Morris to come up with a pledge that would help them understand the words they spoke every morning. The end result: “I promise to be nice and to do the right thing so that everyone in America can enjoy freedom and fairness.”
“It is our collective duty to shape the minds of our kids in such a manner as to protect the overall health of our society,” said Morris, an Information Operations Analyst trainer for Force Management & Development’s Joint Capabilities Training with U.S. Special Operations Command.
“Our economy, civil liberties, and national security all hinges on the aggregate core values demonstrated daily by our own citizens,” he said.
Morris has spent the last 14 years volunteering his personal time speaking to fourth, fifth and sixth graders at inner city schools and community events. He also travels to prisons to speak to inmates on patriotism. Morris’ motivation and dedication to the youth came when saw an increase of young African American males becoming disinterested in furthering their education beyond high school.
“I do not care if they remember my name, just as long as the principles stick. It is important to me to look into their eyes and speak life and hope into them,” Morris stated.
Morris feels it’s important to speak to these age groups, because it is during these stages in a child’s life when they need to have strong influences.
“Schools are the hub for influencing children, and the war of influence is currently being won by unethical, yet strong influencers. I am determined to do what I can to counter this cloaked threat to our society,” said Morris.
Morris served 25 years in the U.S Navy and retired as a lieutenant commander. Speaking to grade-school children is a task that is even greater than himself, Morris said. He also hopes to organize a society of speakers to assist with the high demand of speaking requests.