Google +LinkedInPinterestYouTubeInstagramTwitterFacebook

A symbol of hope, freedom and sacrifice

On the first week of June each year, thousands of Europeans and Americans flow into Normandy, France, to honor the memory of the D-Day invasion that liberated western Europe from Nazi Germany in 1944. This year, I was among that crowd. Sixty-seven years had passed since the Allies jumped in the night behind enemy lines, crossed the turbulent channel in Higgins boats, fought their way across the beaches, and unleashed a torrent of warfare from the air, land and sea in an ultimate victory for good over evil. It took everything we had.

My father, Lynn Foster, served in a combat engineer battalion with the U.S. Army Air Forces on D-Day and helped destroy Hitler's Atlantic Wall, opening a route to victory in the European theater.

Like so many World War II veterans, Dad didn't talk much about it afterward. But in the rural coastal countryside of Normandy, I sensed his presence and saw what he fought for. More than that, I saw who he fought for - decades removed from the invasion - and how they honor D-Day and the ever-dwindling number of veterans who come back. And everywhere you look, flying high in the breezy sky, are U.S. flags. In that part of France, our flag means freedom.

Several weeks ago, our hearts went out to those who lost their lives and homes when a swarm of deadly tornadoes whipped across Alabama. Soon afterward, Joplin, Mo., was hit. Hundreds were killed. As was the case after 2005's Hurricane Katrina, Old Glory emerged from the rubble everywhere you looked. To those who have been devastated by natural disasters, our flag means hope.

To the families who have shed tears at the sight of a coffin draped in the colors of our country, knowing that inside it is a loved one whose life was given for safety and freedom for others, our flag means sacrifice.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that to burn our flag, soil it or rip it to shreds is a protected act of speech. So be it. I disagree. The American Legion disagrees. Over 80 percent of the U.S. public disagrees.

Thankfully, our Constitution offers an amendment process. That is what we seek - an exception - and we will continue to pursue it until supermajorities of both the House and the Senate give back to the American people the right to protect the flag under which so many of their sons and daughters have fallen. In 2006, the measure fell one vote short in the Senate.

I ask you - as a Congress of many new faces takes up our nation's business - to urge the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 19 and House Joint Resolution 13. If anything deserves an exception, it is the flag of our nation and all that it means.

 

DSBroyles

September 25, 2011 - 1:24pm

This always stalls out because the Supreme Court has ruled against it, and politicians won't discuss it until Election time.

I think it is a question to ask of the Republican Presidential Candidates during one of their televised debates.

Find out where we can email this question to (the moderator or sponsor of the debate). Then notify all members of the American Legion to email the question in. This way, you can get a sense of how many people really support such a resolution (as will these candidates)

KIT1479

August 14, 2011 - 1:43pm

It is time for the American Legion to stop discriminating against fellow veterans. It is time for the American Legion to come into the 21st century and honor all veterans. The American Legion needs to let Cold War Vets(1946-1990) to become members. I keep hearing from those in charge of the legion that "We can't congress sets the dates for eligibility in the Legion." WHEN i ASK MY CONGRESSWOMAN HERE IN NY ABOUT CHANGING THE DATES SHE SAYS THAT SHE WOULD BE MORE THAN WILLING TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO CHANGE THE DATES IF SOMEONE IN CHARGE AT THE LEGION ASKS HER. Right now a bill was introduced in congress to create a Cold War Victory Medal. It has been attached to the 2012 defense budget. There is also legilation in New York State to recognize cold war vets. I say since those in charge in the Legion will not let in Cold war vets we at the post level need to change our post By-laws an have the membership vote on letting Cold war vets into the legion.Let the VFW Keep Combat vets.

SIGINT_2001

August 13, 2011 - 5:31pm

Every now and again, I like to check in on the Legion website and see if the organization has entered the 21st century, and is ready to deal with 21st-century veteran issues.

When was the last time someone in this country took "flag burning" seriously? The burner instantly alienates him/herself and whatever cause they advocate by taking such a worn-out tack. Americans are very familiar with the practice, love the flag, and uniformly reject those who burn flags.

Also, the Supreme Court has twice -- TWICE -- upheld the burning of flags as free speech. What on Earth makes the Commander think that Congress or the Court will bother with something like this?

This "issue" is a non-issue, used to distract the average Legionnaire from the organization's lack of ability to get more important things done.

This article speaks to the disconnect between the hidebound leadership of organizations like the Legion and the reality on the ground -- it sort of reminds me of Afghanistan.

MPPMMSPO3

August 12, 2011 - 7:26pm

Personally, I thank Commander Foster for his words in support of the flag ammendment.
Strange as it might seem, growing up in the early '60's gave me the presence of mind to believe that in some ways I owned my Country as well as our forefathers something back for the freedoms we enjoy.
Now in my later '50's, I've been a member of The American Legion for 19 years. I should have many more years .. but that's another story.
Today, driving here or there, whether just in town or going through other's... My heart still swells.. and yes, I even almost tear up to full roll of tears.. each and ever time I see our "Old Glory" flying. Passengers in my mode of transportation look at me in wonder when I absent-mindedly remark.. something to the effect of "Oh my Lord, what a beautiful symbol of our freedom. Look at those colors; It's just fabulous."
I say pass the Ammendment. I love you Old Glory!!!

mghorner

August 12, 2011 - 11:25am

I wasn't aware that race had anything to do with honoring our Countrys flag. When I served, all races were serving side by side. We can tell by your comments where you stand. The flag of the U S used to be a symbol of freedom but, as the article states, I guess that is only true in other Country's that have lived in the strife of war. They have learned what the word patriot means first hand. I guess that also your reference to" old" means that old people, symbols, believes and values are outdated. What a shame that patriotism is an old word also.
No one has suggested that everyone's desires to see improvements in all areas of need for past and present vets is not needed!
The American Eagles are few and far between. We are protecting them, does the American flag deserve any less?

BS_Detector

August 11, 2011 - 10:08pm

If you want to know whether flag burning is political speech, therefor protected by the first amendment, here is a little test you can do.
Go to a busy spot in Miami, get up on top of a car, and burn a Cuban flag. If someone either cheers your action, OR beats you to death, then flag burning is obviously a form of political speech. Here in the USA, we don't ban political speech, we have always left that for the communists.

mghorner

August 11, 2011 - 3:49pm

It looks like your comments are based on a dislike for the person writing the article, hopefully not the article or it's content. If that statement is incorrect, why did you join? It is like the old statement "you can't LOVE anyone until you love yourself". YOU CAN'T LOVE THIS COUNTRY AND NOT HONOR THE FLAG OF THE U. S. AND FOR THE FREEDOM IT STANDS FOR. I would guess that you would also agree to have the U N decide for our leaders what we can/can't do or own. Knowing that you must have served in the U S armed forces to be a member, you must have forgotten why! If we let our flag be trampled under foot, WHICH OF OUR FREEDONS DO WE LET GO NEXT. You forget, every small step that we allow will lead to a country divided. Don't forget, another great freedom is speach. To use that freedom as an avenue the trample our flag is not American. To vote to allow it is a shame. Just think, speach, the right to vote, worship, meet, own a gun, etc. When do we give these up?

Germ

August 11, 2011 - 7:49pm

I served to defend the US Constitution ... NOT THE FLAG!

Your just flat wrong and this subject is old and needs to go away.

This organization needs to worry about veteran benefits not a flag amendment.

Too many old white folk clinging to the past in this country if you ask me!

I'm a 45 year old white guy.

Stick to what matters and get this organization off the stupid stuff .... PLEASE!

mghorner

August 11, 2011 - 3:49pm

It looks like your comments are based on a dislike for the person writing the article, hopefully not the article or it's content. If that statement is incorrect, why did you join? It is like the old statement "you can't LOVE anyone until you love yourself". YOU CAN'T LOVE THIS COUNTRY AND NOT HONOR THE FLAG OF THE U. S. AND FOR THE FREEDOM IT STANDS FOR. I would guess that you would also agree to have the U N decide for our leaders what we can/can't do or own. Knowing that you must have served in the U S armed forces to be a member, you must have forgotten why! If we let our flag be trampled under foot, WHICH OF OUR FREEDONS DO WE LET GO NEXT. You forget, every small step that we allow will lead to a country divided. Don't forget, another great freedom is speach. To use that freedom as an avenue the trample our flag is not American. To vote to allow it is a shame. Just think, speach, the right to vote, worship, meet, own a gun, etc. When do we give these up?

mghorner

August 11, 2011 - 3:47pm

It looks like your comments are based on a dislike for the person writing the article, hopefully not the article or it's content. If that statement is incorrect, why did you join? It is like the old statement "you can't LOVE anyone until you love yourself". YOU CAN'T LOVE THIS COUNTRY AND NOT HONOR THE FLAG OF THE U. S. AND FOR THE FREEDOM IT STANDS FOR. I would guess that you would also agree to have the U N decide for our leaders what we can/can't do or own. Knowing that you must have served in the U S armed forces to be a member, you must have forgotten why! If we let our flag be trampled under foot, WHICH OF OUR FREEDONS DO WE LET GO NEXT. You forget, every small step that we allow will lead to a country divided. Don't forget, another great freedom is speach. To use that freedom as an avenue the trample our flag is not American. To vote to allow it is a shame. Just think, speach, the right to vote, worship, meet, own a gun, etc. When do we give these up?

mcsaber

August 7, 2011 - 7:08pm

Current issues concerning veterans and current service members should be the focus, especially during times of extreme budget cuts. Supporting the military is more than wearing a hat, we have to make sure that when our men and women come home they are taken care of. This should be the focus.
The issues being addressed by the NC seem to be the issues of his generation. Until fresh young leadership stands up this organization will be focused on the past.

Rugby Reader

July 28, 2011 - 2:04am

Excellent commentary, junx. I couldn't agree more.

junx

July 26, 2011 - 8:12pm

How about you stop wasting member's money & time, donations and the tax payers money & time by trying to repeal everything you disagree with???

I too think it's wrong to desecrate a flag, but that doesn't mean I or you are right.

How about you focus more on vets issues instead of restricting others rights. Progress not regress. Like helping homeless vets. Better resources & regulations at VA hospitals, so they aren't screwing up & spreading incurable diseases. I am sure the Vietnam Veterans would love some more support with their Agent Orange issue. Sen. Coburn of Oklahoma is calling for no more claims on this issue. But no, we have to redirect funds & time towards this crap. And you know it won't pass. This issue has already been done over & over again.

First repealing the DADT, now this? I am afraid to look at what else you've wasted resources on in the past.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Tell us what you think