It all began with a high school civics assignment. Matt Susin asked his Eu Gallie High School students what changes they would like to see in local government. Andrew Matos’ answer was that he wanted to ensure all state and municipal flags were American-made.
Class assignments and discussions like this happen in classrooms every day, but most teachers end them there—in the classroom.
Fortunately, Susin is not like most teachers. Susin, recipient of several teaching awards, from the American History Teacher of the Year in 2009 to the Citizenship Education Teacher Award in 2013, was clearly dedicated to his students seeing the impact they were able to make on their country. It’s not particularly easy to create a state law, so the teacher and his class had a bit of work on their hands if they wanted to make Matos’ idea a reality. They all seemed up to the challenge. Susin began moving to create a law by garnering support from State Representative Ritch Workman of Workman authored the “All American Flag Act” requiring all state, country, and other public agencies to only purchase American flags made in the U.S. A.
The first version of the bill was put before the Florida House in October of 2013 but it did not get out of committee. It may not have progressed because, as Workman said, it was “a bit overreaching.” It mandated that violators would face second-degree misdemeanor charges (a fine of $500 and six days in jail). Susin and his students had to regroup and decide if they were going to continue with their fight. The group was surprised by the outcome, but everyone remained hopeful. “It’s definitely disappointing,” said Molly Howard from Viera High School, but she believed that if they tried hard enough, they could get the bill passed. Rep. Workman changed the wording, got State Rep. Bob Cortes to co-sponsor the bill, and was able to get a Senate companion bill (SB 590). Susin and his students gained support by giving speeches and circulating a petition.
Finally, in April 2015, the Florida State Legislature passed the companion acts HB 225 and SB 590, the All American Flag act. On June 11th, 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed the All American Flag act into law. (HB
Now, all flags flown over government buildings in Florida must be made in America. Personal flags do not have to be American-made, but why not join this patriotic movement? It seems like purchasing American-made flags for state and municipal buildings is common sense. One would assume that this is already happening everywhere across the country. But only six states—Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey—have such laws on the books. Now, Florida has officially joined them.
Perhaps more states, and even the Federal government, will take the initiative to begin passing these laws. The path may not be easy, but just like Susin and his high school students, future ….should not give up at first and make sure they see it through.