BASH student reflects on viral fame after expressing first amendment rights


Matt Rourke/Associated Press

BASH student Nathan Barrett at protest in Harrisburg with his older brother and father.

Nathan Barrett outside parade of cars filled with more protest supporters. PC: Matt Rourke / Associated Press

BASH student Nathan Barrett reflects on his personal experience attending a peaceful protest back in April, 2020:

The day before the protest my brother came to our house and and told us about the upcoming protest. “There’s a protest in Harrisburg tomorrow to re-open PA. We should go.” My dad followed with, “Yeah, I guess we can go. Do you want to?” My dad said as he turned to ask me. I didn’t think anything of it so I said, “Yeah, sure I’ll go.”

As just an ordinary student at BASH, I had quite the surprise seeing myself on the news among all the pictures of my dad, my brother and I from a protest we went to in Harrisburg on April 22, 2020. I discovered it just a few months later as I enrolled into a journalism class, and the teacher, Ms. Kraus, showed an article from the Editor-In-Chief. While scrolling down, I saw the picture from the protest of my dad, my brother and I. I didn’t know that my “fame-dom” had also extended to the BASH Cub News! With three clearer pictures and one that was a little less visible, the pictures that were taken in April were on the cover of many news websites such as, Pittsburg post-Gazette, The Daily Item, Times News, and Williamsport Sun-Gazette. The pictures were definitely the ones that most news sites wanted, but why would they want photos of a dad and his sons? I believe that they wanted the picture because it was a father and his youngest son who can’t even vote yet but was setting an example and practicing his first amendment rights. As we found out from people from our church that we were on the news that day, we started to do more research and eventually found the pictures. With only three clear pictures, they were taken at the perfect time to show how a father can set an example with his freedom of speech. There may only be three distinct pictures, but they were taken at just the right time so they could send a message and hold a deeper meaning than just a man and his sons attending a protest.

Once we got home and found out we were on the news, my dad and I started searching the internet for what my mom’s friend saw. When we found it my dad smiled widely and said happily, “We are national treasures.” I smiled and high fived him as he wanted one and I sort of shook my head a little.

The Barretts and other protestors gathered outside of the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg on April 20th, 2020. PC: David Maialetti / Philadelphia Inquirer

As a local BASH student who went to a protest not expecting what would happen, I was shocked when I discovered all of this. After everything that happened, what I would tell other people is to take chances. You never know what can happen as I didn’t know pictures of us would be sent around and I didn’t know we would be on the news either. You may be surprised at what can happen when you take a chance.