Keizerites are generous and they are patriotic. That’s why it is so unsettling to hear of how members of Keizer Fire District Explorer Post 350 were treated when posting flags.

The Explorers, comprised of young men and women, aged 14 to 20, post flags in Keizer to mark holidays, Labor Day was no exception. The group of Explorers were met with derisive comments and gestures as they posted flags along River Road on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

These young people—residents of Keizer—were treated in the most ugly manner, according the volunteer firefighter accompanying the flag posters.

It is unbelieveable that our young people, conducting a task that should fill our hearts with pride and respect, were victims of behavior that most people decry and find offensive. The American flag is the most respected symbol of our nation. The Explorers take on the responsibility of posting flags as part of their duties, and they all do it, not because they have to, but because they want to.

We all have enough to be concerned with here in September 2020: COVID-19, nearby rampaging wildfires and the resulting evacuations, people in need of jobs and food. The unruly and disgusting behavior of fellow citizens aimed at our teens doing a patriotic duty is something we should not have to confront.

One can only image what went through the minds of the Explorers after being verbally accosted. Were they scared? Were they questioning the worth of their task? In our current political climate of polarization in which we see people being injured or killed due to their beliefs, it is understandable for anyone to be fearful for their safety.

Were the Explorers to think that the disguting behavior was aimed at them personally, or at what they were doing? Either way, it is frightful. Regardless of one’s beliefs, there is a time and a place to wage a protest and express one’s opinion. That place is not on River Road, targeting our young people.

Explorer Scouts are future first responders. Members must be between the ages of 14 years and 20, maintain a good GPA and be active in all aspects of the Post.

Members of Explorer Post 350 train once a week throughout the year. Explorers are trained by firefighters in all aspects of firefighting and pre-hospital care. Training includes fire behavior, search and rescue, ropes and knots, CPR and much more.

Explorers also participate in various fire district functions such as Open Houses, fund raising events, parades and many other community events.

The young people who comprise the Explorers need to be honored, not with derision but with gratitude. When we see them working in the community we should give a friendly honk, not ugly words.      —LAZ