A Flag, A Riot, and a Boy

Accession number 2004.001.005

Material Information

A Flag, A Riot, and a Boy
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
Jenkins, Nina J.
Jenkins, Ivan L.
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Box: 04-1


Subjects / Keywords:
Martyr's Day (Panama)
Spatial Coverage:


Item received on 11/27/2010
Original Location:

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Panama Canal Museum Collection at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. This item may be protected by copyright but is made available here under a claim of fair use (17 U.S.C. §107) for non-profit research and educational purposes. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact Digital Services (ufdc@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
accession number - 2004.001.005
System ID:

Full Text


Early reports circulated throughout the United States, particularly in
one widely-read magazine, have resulted in a number of vile, insulting and
degrading comments addressed to our son from American "Patriots" in various
sections of the United States. He has been labeled a delinquent, hoodlum,
poor student and rabble-rouser. Our students in the Canal Zone have been
accused of inciting the unfortunate events which occurred between the United
States and Panama by a number of news services in the United States and

Inasmuch as hindsight is usually provided with 20-20 vision, which
foresight is not, particularly in 16 and 17 year old boys, we are all aware
now that the actions of our students in the Canal Zone were unwise, to say
the least, and perhaps a number of us, adults as well as students, could
have acted more prudently.

Be that as it may, the reporters came here, looked around, made
comparisons, asked questions of inexperienced youths, posed them in
unflattering situations, and then scattered these hastily gathered, often
erroneous, observations throughout the United States. It appears that
stories of teenage hoodlums, punks, defiance and rabble-rousing attract
our reading public and that stories of ordinary boys, often wrong, but
usually without cruel or violent intent are not very interesting reading.
I mention ordinary boys, boys like our high school boys here and our son,
James Jenkins, for whom I speak now.

James was never, and is not now, a delinquent or undisciplined boy.
Because he wanted to have his own United States flag remain in front of his
school, as did most of his fellow students and many of our adults, includ-
ing my husband and myself, our boy was suddenly thrust from a quiet normal
family life into the limelight, labeled a ring-leader, and finally has had
to leave his home, his school, his parents and his lifelong friends. He
was suddenly subjected to experienced leading questions on a very contro-
versial and delicate issue by veteran reporters. Some of his answers were
most unfortunate. He was not aware of the implication which would be
placed upon them. Even an older and more experienced person might have
answered unwisely under such circumstances. Now when he is cornered by
cameramen and reporters he has been trying desperately to defend himself
and his fellow students against the hostile and confused reports which
have been published by our American press.

Both United States citizens and Panamanians who are well informed are
aware that the "Flag Incident" was of little consequence in the true issues,
but since James has been singled out as the object of violent fury and hate

of Panamanians, and many Americans also, I would like to give you a brief
resume of his normal life. Those of us who know him well are shocked to
read about his delinquency, bad manners, lack of discipline and poor

Jamie is the youngest of our family. He has two married sisters resid-
ing in the United States, two brothers in the United States, one of whom is
in the United States Army, and a sister in Nursing School in the United States.
Jamie has been a good son, an easy boy to discipline, and a fairly good
student throughout his school years. He has many friends here, both United
States citizens and Panamanians in the Canal Zone and in Panama. He under-
stands and speaks some Spanish and has visited freely in and out of Panama
since he was a small boy. He has lived in the Canal Zone since he was two
years old, but he has traveled from coast to coast in the United States and
has visited many of the historical monuments and natural wonders of our
country. He was eager to finish high school and go back to the United States
where he had hoped to get a job during the summer to help defray his college

Jamie has earned much of his own spending money while growing up. This
is not an easy thing to do in the Canal Zone where jobs such as car cleaning
yard work, and package toting are usually reserved for Panamanians because
it is felt that the North American boys do not need the money. Nevertheless,
Jamie has managed to earn money continually from his first enterprise, a
lemonade stand, through such things as making and selling "Snowballs,"
selling Christmas cards for the Wallace Brown Card Company in the United
States, trading old coins, and finally to his last job as a Student Aid at
$. 75 an hour. Twice a day, every day of the week, he has gone up to the
laboratory at Gorgas Hospital and cleaned the dog pens, fed the dogs and
walked them. He left home each morning at 5:45 a. m. took care of his dogs
and then went to school. After school he went back and spent another hour
cleaning, feeding and walking the dogs. He worked at this "glamorous" job
from May 1963 through the summer and up until he resigned when he left the
Canal Zone. Every two weeks he received a "take-home" pay of $16. 00. He
kept $6. 00 for spending money and the rest was put in the bank for him,
after his bike was paid for. He had a small "Honda" motorbike, which he
paid for, in order to have transportation to and from his job. He had saved
approximately $100. 00 before he left for the States,

Throughout his high school years he has been in the ROTC, and attended
both summer training classes for NonComs. He has belonged to the Camera
Club, the Chess Club, and the Science Club. He took and passed his College
Board Examinations during his Junior year with high marks in Math and
Science, his favorite subjects. He had been accepted by both colleges to
which he applied for admission, and was trying to come to a decision as
to which college offered courses best suited to his future plans and ambitions.


He was a member of St. Andrews Episcopal Church where he was Christened
when he was two years and Confirmed when he was 13. He was an active
member of the Pacific Chapter, Order of Demolay, and had just been elected
Master Counselor. He had to leave before his installation which was to
have taken place in February. He belonged to the YMCA where he was taking
Judo lessons and progressing very well He was also about to complete
his Driver-Training Course, and his Dad was teaching him to drive the car.

Our U. S. press has exploded this normal, everyday boy into a monster,
a hoodlum, a delinquent and has made him the object of vile and cruel
letters. His protest to the President of the United States against removal of
the American flag from the front of the U. S. schools was truly sincere in its
intent, but it catapulted him into a hostile world of misinformed adults who
have pointed fingers at him and called him an assassin, who have plastered _
his name across the nation as a show-off, and posed him for pictures which
any person would be ready to condemn at first sight. There have also been
veiled threats such as a shooting incident aimed at a Jenkins residence
(no relation) in Cambridge, Ohio, linked to his pending arrival there.

What will happen to our boy from now on? As his parents we are
frightened for his safety from fanatics, for possible loss of his faith in
love and human understanding, and for his chances in the United States to
complete his education. He has been taught to respect the law and to
believe in justice. He broke no laws, but he has been condemned.

This incident has already cost him dearly, and his Dad and I are
praying that he may never become convinced that he was the cause of all
the trouble and deaths, Uo S. citizens, soldiers, and Panamanians alike,
for he and the other students, again both the U. S. citizen and the
Panamanian students, were cruelly used as an excuse to unleash trouble
already brewed. It was crouched and waiting,

Surely intelligent, thinking, and informed persons cannot honestly
believe that the burden of the strife here should rest on the shoulders of
a 17 year old student who, very briefly, backed a cause in which he
firmly believed that of keeping before his -school the United States flag
which was symbolic of his happy childhood and his future life as a citizen
of the United States of America to a lad of 17 the most wonderful country
in the world.

Nina J. Jenkins (Mom)
Ivan L. Jenkins (Dad)

Box 1797
Balboa, Canal Zone

January 28, 1964


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