Protecting Flag worth the effort

In its 1989 Texas v. Johnson decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down - by a 5 to 4 vote - more than 200 years of laws protecting the U.S. Flag from physical desecration.

The right to protect the flag was a right that we, as a country, had possessed since the birth of our nation. In the years since our independence, the U.S. Flag has come to symbolize the values of America - freedom, democracy, courage and peace through strength. To desecrate the flag is to desecrate those values.

Since the 1989 decision, Congress and the media have engaged in numerous heated debates about a proposed constitutional amendment that would return to the people their right to protect the flag. Several polls have been conducted to determine if U.S. citizens would support such an amendment. Through all the debate and research, two constants have emerged: The American Legion's unwavering support for the amendment, and the fact that about 80 percent of Americans feel that passing such an amendment is the right thing to do.

As yet, new legislation hasn't been introduced in either the House or Senate; it could happen by May in both chambers. But we have work to do before that happens.

Five years of polls by the Citizens Flag Alliance show that more than three-quarters of Americans favor the amendment, and 80 percent say they feel that flag desecration is wrong. Why, then, won't the Senate put the vote in the hands of the people it represents? That's all the Legion asks: pass the amendment and then send it to the states for ratification. Let the people decide. But some in the Senate believe they know better than their constituents, or perhaps they're just not listening.

Here's where the grassroots power of The American Legion can make a difference. The two senators from your home state don't care what David K. Rehbein thinks about the flag amendment. I don't have a vote in their state. But they do care what you think, because you have a vote, and that vote is your most powerful tool when it comes to dealing with Congress.

That's why I'm asking you to contact your senators and representatives. Call their district offices. Write to them in Washington. Send them e-mails. Give them this simple message: "Support the flag amendment when it's introduced. Sign on as a co-sponsor. Urge your colleagues to do the same. Give the amendment a chance to go before the people."

Your lobbying at the local level empowers our lobbying at the national level. Congress will listen to me more closely if they've already heard from you. That's how The American Legion has always worked.

The language of past amendments has been simple enough: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

The words are powerful. They would allow us to protect a symbol so sacred, it's draped over the caskets of the men and women killed defending our way of life. A symbol that gives hope to oppressed countries under attack from dominating enemies, and for citizens legally traveling to the United States to seek a better life. The flags hanging on the Pentagon and at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks signaled that our resolve is unwavering. Shouldn't a symbol so significant to so many people be protected, the same as someone's personal property? Shouldn't it be afforded the same protection as a U.S. mailbox or a dollar bill?

Twenty years ago, five court justices took away our right to protect the U.S. Flag. Trying to retake that right has demanded a lot of time and effort, but every second has been worth it. And every second we spend on it in the future will be worth it, because Old Glory is worth it.


  1. I have always respected the American Flag and always will but it took much deeper roots while serving in Viet Nam. When a small group of us was in a position that looked like the end one of the guys pulled out a flag and declared the spot to be owned by the group so that he could die on American Soil. That statement and display of the flag will never be understood by those who have never served. It was our symbol of hope, freedom and home all rolled into one. It need some group to take on providing it protection from desecration and burning during protests.
  2. The flag means nothing but what it represents? Tell that to the men who raised our flag on top Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima and Joe Rosenthal who took the iconic picture that is depicted in our most famous Washington D.C. monument at Arlington Cemetery. It is just a piece of cloth to you maybe but to them it meant much more than that. They carried that flag with them through one of the bloodist battles of the Pacific War just to inspire them to keep fighting in the face of overwhelming odds. Tell that to Francis Scott Key who, in the first light of dawn, saw the flag still raised over Fort Mc Henry after a night of heavy bombing by British Naval ships and wrote the poem that became our National Anthem. Just a piece of cloth? I don't think so. Yes we have freedom that is not just represented by the flag but because of the flag for inspiration through terrible death and destruction and the shedding of American blood on foreign soil beyond human comprehension. It sounds like you never served in the military and was up at the break of dawn to honor the flag raising and stood at attention saluting the flag at a retreat ceremony. It sounds like you never marched behind the flag raised high in formation. It sounds like you have no idea what that flag meant to those aboard ships under weathering enemy bombardment that damaged their ship beyond recognition but still prevailed. You and others like you are the reason millions of our men have fought and died to give you the right to call the flag just a piece of cloth. Show some gratitude and appreciation for their sacrifice so that you can go to bed at night same and sound. People like you are the reason why we are no longer respected in the world by our enemies, or our allies. People like you have elected the worse president this country has ever seen and who goes around the world apologizing for our greatness.
  3. I am for the fair treatment of all flags They are symbols of a country and have deep meaning for its citizens. Why do the Americans amongst others use the Dutch flag for commercial purposes...OPEN>>>SALE>>>REMAX... etc How would the Americans like to see these works spread across their flag all over the place. In case you are wondering the Dutch flag is red white and blue bands across Just asking by a Dutch national visiting your beautiful country
  4. I just came here for some information on disposing of an old flag (which is useful), but found something more disturbing-this old thing again. I love the American flag because of what it stands for, and that includes the right to speak freely-even when one's speech is offensive to many. That's how America works. The flag's power is in the freedoms it stands for, not in the piece of cloth itself. It would be a terrible irony indeed to "protect" the flag by "burning" what it stands for-the freedom to speak one's mind, regardless of causing someone else offense. The flag only has worth and value because of the freedoms it represents. Take away those freedoms, and one may as well burn the flag, for after that, it means nothing at all. I have contacted my Congressmen-to urge him NOT to support this amendment.
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