Unflagging Support Of ‘Old Glory’

Susan Page
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Wednesday - July 05, 2006
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As you raise - or raised, depending on when you read this - “Old Glory” this Independence Day to celebrate our country, our freedoms and the sacrifice it took to afford them, “read” between those red and white stripes.

I think you’ll see some blatant political maneuvering written there in vanishing ink.

Just last week, only one vote in the United States Senate prevented a constitutional amendment from being passed that would protect the American flag from desecration. The vote that could’ve saved this amendment might’ve been that of either of our senators, Akaka or Inouye, but it wasn’t - no surprise there - or by a well-known Republican, like Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a surprise.

Those who opposed that amendment claim it would violate the guarantee of freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights. The amendment, which passed overwhelmingly in the House (310-114, Case and Abercrombie were nays), lost 64 to 34 with 65 votes needed to pass. (Two cowardly senators abstained.)

The vote was remarkable because some of the most notable liberal Democrats in the Senate - Dianne Feinstein of California and Max Cleland of Georgia, as examples - not only voted for the amendment, but co-sponsored it.

But more interesting is that Sen. Hillary Clinton, a run at president looming, sponsored her own flag protection legislation and introduced it just before the Flag Amendment vote, virtually ensuring her proposed bill’s failure. Then, she voted to oppose the amendment. She was clearly dangling her political legs on both sides of the fence.

In a June 29 Los Angeles Times article, liberal journalist Ariana Huffington wrote, “Tuesday’s Senate debate on flag desecration was emblematic of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ongoing attempt to rebrand herself as a red-state-friendly Dem by supporting a bill that would have criminalized flag desecration, while still holding on to her liberal bonafides by voting against the Constitutional amendment banning that desecration. It was eating your patriotism cake and having it too.”

So even our precious flag is in a political tug-o-war. The same flag that was draped on my husband’s coffin, that flies over foreign embassies, that inspired Francis Scott Key in the “dawn’s early light,” that Marines installed on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima is pulled from one political side to another till one day it might just rip apart.

There are many ways to petition and protest our government written into our laws already - the finest being the right to vote - so that desecrating our nation’s flag, the emblem the founding fathers created in 1777 to legally represent our hard-won sovereignty, is not necessary.

Furthermore, restrictions on free speech already exist. We can’t say something that would endanger another, like the proverbial “fire” in a crowded theater, we can’t libel a public official, or conspire to harm our nation or its people - as seen in last month’s Florida terrorist group arrest.

Survey after survey reflects that three quarters of Americans favor the Flag Protection amendment, so why has it become such a political big deal?

I’m against the desecration of the flag we fly to honor the liberty, equality, and personal responsibility for which our nation’s founders and our military men and women have fought so fiercely, the flag that brings us together as a united people under the motto “e pluribus unum,” “from many, one,” and that represents our sovereignty as a nation to other nations. It is more than a rag of colored cloth that can be torn, urinated on or burned. It is our nation.

Foreigners abroad may burn our flag to show hatred for America, but let us protect and love our flag as we would protect and love our country. Otherwise, we risk ripping apart as a nation in the same way political exploitation risks our nation’s demise.

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