Sherry Hudson and several friends arrived at Edison High School last week decked out in red-and-white striped Dr. Denton pajamas topped off with navy blue shorts.
Their classmates tried to dress patriotically but most chose a more conservative route. Some wore red baseball caps emblazoned with "USA" and topped with toothpick-size U.S. flags. Nearly everyone was wearing T-shirts -- Edison originals -- that read, "USA -- You Mean The World to Me."
It was USA Day -- Fairfax County's pep rally for America.
The student body filed onto the sun-drenched bleachers of the football field, and there were cheers as the marching band struck up "It's a Grand Old Flag."
The chorus and band had donned red, white and blue T-shirts. Cheerleaders, who wore identical shirts and red pleated skirts, stood at attention during the entire ceremony.
On hand for the festivities were State Sen. James V. Gartlan Jr. (D-Fairfax) and Del. Gladys B. Keating (D-Fairfax).
Each speaker made brief remarks about the rebirth of patriotism in the United States, and the student body broke into cheers at the end of each sentence.
"This is amazing," said Gartlan, apparently in disbelief at the response.
The hostages in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and recent developments around the world were recurring themes with all of the speakers.
"You have fully demonstrated your profound respect for the country," said Principal John G. Oliverio before he was drowned out by more cheers. "The future of Amrica is indeed bright."
One student who addressed his classmates spat out his hatred for the Soviets by referring to the Soviet Union as "that monster of a country."
But the highlight of the afternoon was on a positive note: during the playing of the national anthem, a U.S. flag almost 50 feet long was unfurled. Then six students waving flags of their own appeared on the track around the field and ran a quarter mile to unrestrained shouts of encouragement from their classmates.
Asked to give a reason for the outpouring of patriotism among teen-agers -- something almost unheard of just a few years back -- ninth grader Sherry Hudson thought for a minute: "I don't really know. I guess the hostages have a lot to do with it . . . You don't realize how much freedom means until you lose it like the hostages have." d
When several other students, decorated from head to toe in red, white and blue, were questioned about their views on reinstatement of the draft, they expressed reservations.
"I don't know. I guess if the country really needed me I'd go, but I'd hate to be drafted right now," said one Edison senior.