Cody Alicea, who has come to be known as "Flag Boy," is wrapping up his tour of the nation's capital by witnessing history - the convening of the 112th Congress and swearing-in of his congressman. The American Legion has been by the Denair, Calif., teen's side since he made national news after an employee at his middle school ordered him to remove a U.S. flag from his bicycle during the week of Veterans Day. The school had banned national flags after tensions arose between flag-waving Cinco De Mayo celebrants and spectators bearing the Stars and Stripes. Cody was asked to remove the flag, it was explained, "for his own safety."
This did not sit well with Alicea or his household members, whose family has a long history of military service. Word got out, and soon, flag defenders - including a motorcycle-escorting cadre of Legion Riders - were swarming to Alicea's side and to his defense. The school administration's action was a hot topic on the blogosphere as well as in print and broadcast media nationwide. The school quickly retracted its edict and issued an apology.
Rep. Jeff Denham - a wealthy businessman, former state senator, Air Force veteran and newly elected congressman from California - joined the Alicea-inspired patriotic campaign and invited the teen to accompany him to Washington for his swearing-in ceremonies to the House.
Cody, who turned 14 on New Year's Day, and his grandfather arrived Jan. 3. With the assistance of Legion Legislative Division staffer Jeff Steele, they spent the bulk of Tuesday touring Washington. Alicea described the capital as "awesome."
"We've been reading about Washington and Congress and stuff at school," he said, while awaiting an escort to the House of Representatives to see the anointment of Denham, "but it's really cool to see it in person."
Perhaps surprising for a 14-year-old, Cody said the most "awesome" of the sights he saw - with the possible exception of the Air & Space Museum - were the rows of honored fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. "He's a patriot, that boy," said an overhearing Congressional staffer.