An Indiana school district got an education in patriotism last week after attempting to force senior Cameron Blasek to remove an American flag from his Dodge pick-up.

“The flag itself represents this country, this beautiful country that we live in,” Blasek, a student at East Central High School in St. Leon, told Scripps News. “It also represents the people who fought their lives for it. And I think that’s a really hard thing to talk about, but I think it’s a big thing.”

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It’s the main reason the 17-year-old decided last summer to display Old Glory from his truck, and why he refused to remove it when confronted by a school counselor and vice principal last Thursday.

“The school came to me and told me, ‘You got to remove this flag. Otherwise, you’re going to get written up for insubordination,’” Blasek told Fox 19. “I kind of just told them straight up from the get-go, that’s not going to happen. I read them their own handbook and all their guidelines and Indiana state laws and everything that shows I’m perfectly legal and fine to fly that flag.”

Before long, students learned about the threats to punish Blasek for displaying the American flag, and a summary of the situation posted online by Blasek’s parents generated 6.3 million views. When Blasek returned to school on Friday, the East Central High parking lot was filled with American flags on student vehicles in a show of support.

“I was kind of shocked,” Blasek told WXIX. “I’m like, ‘Holy cow, everybody’s got flags.’ I wasn’t expecting any of that, but I thought it was pretty cool seeing everybody come together like that.”

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While school officials initially told Blasek he must remove the flag because it could lead to students flying other flags “that are seen as offensive,” it took just one day for them to reverse course, with Principal Tom Black on Friday issuing a “clarification” about the ordeal.

“After careful consideration and in recognition of the importance of the U.S. flag as a symbol of unity and national identity, I am pleased to inform you that we are allowing the display of the U.S. flag by students in the East Central High School parking lot,” Black wrote in a letter to parents cited by Eagle Country 99.3 FM. “I understand the significance of this symbol and pride it instills in our students, teachers, and the entire school community. I share this pride. Students will be expected to display the U.S. flag properly and in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code.”

Black apologized for “any confusion that may have arisen due to the initial lack of clarity on this matter.”

The principal wrote in an email to WCPO that “no high school staff member or administrators stated or insinuated that the U.S. Flag was offensive, nor has there ever been a complaint received about the U.S. Flag.

“The U.S. Flag is displayed in the front of our school and in every classroom,” Black wrote. “We begin each day with the Pledge of Allegiance. Clearly, we do not consider the U.S. Flag offensive.”

Blasek told Fox 19 the outcome serves as a lesson in the importance of free speech and standing up for what’s right.

“I was always taught never to back down from a situation that you believe in,” he said. “That’s just the way I was raised. My family raised me that way, and I’m grateful for it.”

Blasek’s parents contend school officials told their son “it will be in the student handbook next year that students cannot fly the American flag,” though Black told WCPO the school has no plans to “change our handbook.”

The news site notes the American flag is far more contentious with Democrats than Republicans, with 49% of the former holding a “very positive view” compared to 83% for the latter in a 2022 YouGov poll. Former President Donald Trump won Indiana with more than 57% of the vote in 2020.

Blasek’s father, Christopher Blasek, said Cameron is considering joining the military after high school, following other veterans in his family who have served their country.

“I am beyond proud of you Cameron Blasek and all of your friends for standing your ground,” his parents posted online. “As for East Central High School I am ashamed this has even happened but again sometimes there are just people out there who try to tear others down.”

“I think everybody gets offended over something,” Cameron Blasek told WCPO. “This flag represents our country and the people who died for it and fought for it. And I respect that with my whole heart.”