CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - A nationwide conversation has reached the small town of Central. "I just didn't think it would get down to my son, my family," said Ryan Bales.
Bales' son is a senior at Central High School. He's also a soloist in the school choir. Central High administrators told students Wednesday night the choir would not perform the National Anthem during the pep rally Friday afternoon. Bales, a veteran, was immediately against the decision, especially since his son was the soloist. "My son is passionate. He's a patriot. For him not being able to sing the National Anthem, being told he can't sing it, I had to take a stand as a parent."
Friday morning, Bales ditched work in Plaquemine and confronted Central's principal. "You really have to make the right decision here because you have the City of Central and Baton Rouge looking at you right now."
But just hours after the school decided the students wouldn't perform, the decision was reversed. In a statement posted on Facebook, Central said in part:
They explained a decision had initially been made for the National Anthem to not be performed for the event "out of an abundance of caution for our students' safety." While we were told Principal David Prescott was in meetings all day and was unavailable for an interview, he did meet with Bales.
"He came out and said that everything will go on as planned, the National Anthem will be sung and the colors will be presented." Bales says his immediate feeling was a sense of accomplishment. "Because people need to stand up for this more," said Bales.
Meanwhile, Bales says he's also not against people exercising their right to voice their opinion. "There are going to be people that protest it, that take a knee, or do whatever, and that's their right. I fought for them to have the right to take a knee."
However, Bales feels taking a knee is a harsh stance when it comes to the National Anthem and the American flag. "There's a huge lesson and if anything is taken from this, we can come together like we did this afternoon here at Central High. It didn't matter what color you were standing in that crowd. We stood for America and we stood for the City of Central."