Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., will retire in December 2010. In the meantime, he plans to do everything in his power to gain passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting the physical desecration of the U.S. flag.
Bunning was presented The American Legion's James V. Day "Good Guy" Award on Monday. Speaking in front of the 91st National Convention in Louisville, Ky., the senator didn't mince words when talking about the flag.
"The leadership on both sides of the aisle is wrong. Both sides," he said. "The thing to do is change the leadership. I say that not unkindly about who's the leader on the Democratic side or the Republican side. But if they don't understand something as easily understood as the flag amendment, you've got to wonder about their leadership. Anybody who desecrates the flag and uses the excuse that that's freedom of speech is not telling the truth."
Elected to the Senate in 1998 and again in 2004, Bunning has chosen not to run for reelection in 2010. He promised to continue to support the flag amendment for the remainder of his term.
"It ought to be an issue every year, because until we get it right, until we get it done, there are going to be some of us who are going to bring it forward," Bunning said. "The American people understand just how important you think it is, most of the American people think it is, and everyone who serves in the military believes it is."Bunning – an American Legion Baseball alumnus and member of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame – praised the Legion for its focused lobbying efforts.
"Your organization is one who comes to the Congress with a very clear message every time (you) come here," Bunning said. "There's no ambiguity about what you stand for. Believe me, those of us in the Senate and the House know where you stand on issues.
"I know of your loyal service to the United States of America. And that is probably the most important thing we can do for our lives, except for our families, is defend our country. Those people that are over in Afghanistan and Iraq, and all around the hundred countries where the United States has some presence ... understand what America stands for. And when we don't stand for it, something's the matter here. "If ever a president or our generals or the Joint Chiefs of Staff fail to understand the importance of where America is in the world, I expect organizations like yours to bring it to their attention, and bring it to their attention very quickly."
The James V. Day Good Guy Award is named after a World War II veteran and prominent Legionnaire. Recent recipients include performer Dolly Parton, former MLB player Rick Monday and former NBA star and U.S. Naval Academy graduate David Robinson.
"Sen. Bunning has long championed important American Legion issues such as a strong national defense, border security and a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag from desecration," said American Legion Past National Commander Ronald F. Conley, who presented Bunning with the award.