Give Old Glory its due!

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July 2006


“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the united States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

            Along with millions of others, I grew up recitingthis Pledge in grade school. It was an honor to do so. Even though we call this a pledge to the flag, it is really more of a pledge to the country of which we are citizens.

            This flag is a powerful symbol that conjures up all kinds of feelings, depending on the circumstances in which the flag is displayed.

Good feelings

            In a civic parade on Memorial Day or any other national holiday, it generates feelings of civic pride,patriotism and good feelings about our country.

            At a funeral when the flag is draped across a coffin, it evokes feelings of respect for the person who died and gratitude for service to the country.

            In the hoisting of the flag at school or in front of the court house, it may evoke feelings of civic pride and joy in being a citizen of this country in this given locality.

            Even a picture of the flag, such as the one depicting the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, conjures up feelings of pride and accomplishment.

Other feelings

            When the flag is waved  in your face, figuratively or literally,  to silence citizens who dissent from the revailling policies of the government, it is a shameful disgrace of the flag. When used in this way, it promotes nationalism, “my country right or wrong”.”

            When the flag is used to elicit loyalty to either a person or the ideology professed “in the name of America, it is shameful and evokes resentement and bad feelings about our country..”

            When it is used to show the power of the United States in the world, it evokes feelings of fear and anger rather than compassion and collaboration.

            When it is used for such banal purposes as making clothes out of it, painting your mail box as if it were a flag, or using it to hawk sales during Presidents’ Day, The flag loses is glory.

            When the flag is burned in protest or is spit upon, it can evoke anger toward the protestors rather than sympathy for their cause.

When it is used to promote something it clearly does not symbolize, such as   God or a religion, it can evoke animosity towards religion and religious groups. Theocracy, or even the semblance of theocracy, will destroy the grand experiment of democracy this country is still pursuing.

Flag desecration amendment

            The recent attempt to introduce a so called “flag burning” amendment for ratification by the states lost in the United States Senate by one vote. (Who says one vote doesn’t mean anything)

            This amendment says nothing about burning the flag, but rather “that Congress may pass laws that prohibit the desecration of the flag. In other words, it is a wide open door to criminalize any activity associated with the flag. Could this be opening a Pandora’s box?

            We have all heard arguments that it shouldn’t be passed because it violates one of the fundamental freedoms we cherish: the freedom of speech and protest. If we look at other countries’ laws, we maight gain some wisdom. Three of the countries that have anti-flag desecration laws are China, Iran, and Cuba. Are these the countries we wish to emulate in promoting freedom here at home?

            Indeed, the flag is a powerful symbol, but let’s remember that it is only a symbol. What we are really pledging support to is the country – a  nation of freedom loving people who recognize that we all lose freedom if individual liberties are taken away, especially freedom of speech.        Let’s not further debase the flag by passing an anti-flag desecration amendment..