U.S. Navy photo

Foster calls for passage of flag amendment

American Legion National Commander Jimmie L. Foster is calling on Congress to quickly vote on and pass a proposed constitutional amendment that if ratified by the required states would allow Congress to protect the U.S. Flag from desecration.

"Senator (Orrin) Hatch and Sen. (Max) Baucus have just introduced a narrowly drawn bill that would return to the people a right that was taken from them 22 years ago by the Supreme Court, the right to protect Old Glory from desecration," Foster said. "The American Legion and the Citizens Flag Alliance, a coalition of more than 140 organizations, have long championed this amendment, along with large bipartisan majorities in Congress. It has passed the House of Representatives six times but fell slightly short of the required two-thirds votes needed in the Senate. I am optimistic that the new Congress will see the value in protecting a symbol that means so much to the people of our nation. What better time to renew our commitment to this cause but on Flag Day?"

The struggle to protect the flag from desecration began shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that flag desecration was "protected speech." The American Legion and other organizations were outraged that the 5-4 ruling invalidated flag protection laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

"One of the great tragedies of flag desecration is the disrespect it teaches children and the contempt that it displays for this country and those who have fought for our freedom," Foster said. "The Supreme Court has made its ruling, but the framers of the Constitution included an amendment process, which we intend to use. All 50 states, by action of their legislatures, have appealed to Congress in writing to pass a flag protection amendment and send it back to the states for ratification."

The amendment itself would not ban flag burning; it will simply authorize Congress to pass a law which would prohibit the desecration of actual U.S. flags. Its entire text is "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

The American Legion is calling on all Americans to ask their senators to support Senate Joint Resolution 19 and for representatives to support its companion in the House, House Joint Resolution 13. They can be contacted through the Legion's Legislative Action Center.


  1. I am sorry to say that the action directed by the American Legion is totally bogus, and disrespectful to say that Corporate flags are now appropriate to fly the same halyard as our American flag, and are not considered advertising. Although the American Legion shows the Flag Code as approved by Congress on their own web-site, they offer directive to others, like the National Flag Foundation, that is actually non-existent now and has assumed the name of the American Flag Foundation, that is giving information out pertaining to our Flag code saying that it is the American Legion that has made it creditable. When the average person see that McDonald's flag, he thinks McDonald's, and that my friend is advertising. I suspect maybe a donation made by McDonald's to the National Flag Foundation affords them this consideration in light of the fact that in most areas they can no longer position the sign at a height that they have in the past. They've always had signs that towered well above the others when approaching a off ramp to signal customers to their location. Since sign codes have changed in most area's of the Country, McDonald's now has help with flag code interpretation to give them the go-ahead to use their 100 foot flag pole as, YES, advertising. Cheap shot, and very disrespectful indeed. Shame on any organization endorsing this disrespect, fraud, and fragrant violation of our Flag code. If they wish to fly a corporate flag on the same halyard as our Flag, they can do so at their headquarters, but when they fly it at their retail restaurants, it is advertising. I could not believe it was the American Legion that was underwriting this violation, until I was directed to the American Legion as the organization that was misinforming them. First McDonald's Corporate told me they were instructed that this was acceptable by the National Flag Foundation, that continues a web site of that name, but they are now known as the American Flag foundation. When I spoke to them I was told that it was under the guidance, and interpretation of Flag code to them from the American Legion. The web master of the Flag foundation, Linda Bishop, said she would again verify with the American Legion and call me back. She did, and gave me a phone number that I called and spoke to ( at this point I lost my notes ) I believe the name was Duane, and with a Department of the Legion that had to do with family, and children, but was portraying the authority as to why McDonald's should fly their flag under the American Flag and on the same halyard. He said it was to encourage more company's, and corporations to fly the American flag. I expressed to him that patriotic Americans didn't need any other reason to fly our flag, and that this was just a way around local sign code and was disrespectful. He then told me that the American Legion fly's their flag at their head quarters, and I responded that McDonald's, or any other corporation should do the same at their head quarters, but when they are doing it at their restaurants, and the average person looks at it and sees golden arches, that is advertising. This could open the doors to so many cases of disrespect for our flag. When one looks for the Flag Code on so many various sites, and sources, they will find the same uniform code that was most recently confirmed in by the Congressional Research Services report to Congress in April 2008. This is the same uniform code as on the American Legion site, but not the same as on the site for the American Flag Foundation that gives the blessing to McDonald's because they say that the American Legion approves. They have added their very own lines to code pertaining to advertising. Please let me know that the American Legion support our Flag Code as written, without further interpretation to appease advertising. They can very easily install another flag pole slightly shorter to fly their flag. Our Constitution, and our heartfelt beliefs are constantly under attack, and we must not let them be diluted, or rewritten.
  2. After 200 plus years the SCOTUS just now determined that the 2nd amendment is an individual right and you want the give the power of government to these idiots? I'll keep my flag safe without government intrusion, thank you. Wolf Marine Veteran
  3. While I absolutely support showing respect for our country's flag, I cannot support this amendment as it is written. It is far too open to interpretation, even though everyone thinks they know what it says. Even this article has a mixed message. The author writes: "...it will simply authorize Congress to pass a law which would prohibit the desecration of actual U.S. flags." and then says "Its entire text is "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." I don't read ACTUAL in that amendment. In addition, the word "desecration" isn't defined, even though, again, people think they know what it means. So, the way I interpret the amendment, if you're wearing a tie, scarf, shirt, or jacket, or carrying a purse or bag that I think looks too much like it was made from our flag, I would view that as desecration; you consider it patriotic. Our Olympians who wrap themselves in our flag after a win might be considered criminals.
  4. Commander Foster, I admire you for your service to our great nation and The American Legion. I agree with the amendment of the desecration of our flag. My problem is, that the NEC pushed you harder to write the President & Congress to stop the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harrass" than they did for this amendment. This amendment would make it illegal to improperly burn our flag. The correct retirement of the colors would become more our mission to teach and perform those honored retirementsof the colors in public. It seems that encouraging harassment, violence and outright descrimination against the over 60,000 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered (LGBT) men and women serving our Armed Forces today and the over one million honorably discharged LGBT Veterans in The United States who served in wartime, is more important. I love The American Legion and I hope we take care of all Veterans as we protect our flag. GOD Bless America!
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