Burning the Flag = Freedom of Expression
By Cheryl Gevry
Featured Rightgrrl December 1998
May 24, 1999
I realize that the argument over burning the American Flag has been a hot issue for some time. It has been ruled that the right to do this is implied under the First Amendment. Those irate with this argument are now attempting to have an amendment passed that would make burning the American Flag illegal.
In a local letter to the editor, a citizen expressed his concern that if the Flag Desecration Amendment was passed, what was to stop any other forms of negative speech against the government from becoming criminal offenses, and that the government was attempting to punish people just for expressing their opinions. Furthermore, he stated that burning the Flag is the one form of protest that surely represents the ultimate display of dissatisfaction with our government.
What do you think George Washington would have thought of that argument? How would Betsy Ross react to the utter disregard for the symbol of a great nation that she so painstakingly sewed by candlelight? How could Francis Scott Key come up with a song in praise of a symbol whose significance is overrated? Lastly, can you imagine the thoughts of the young men fighting for freedom - which our Flag is a symbol of, putting their lives in harms way, without hesitation to the consequences, that know they receive no support from the general public!
Desecration of the Flag cannot remain legal - in honor of those who fought, in honor of those lives that were lost, in honor of everything that this great nation stands for, and most importantly in honor of those still willing to die to get here!
Our hands are not tied. We can express our displeasure through voting those elected officials out of office. We can express our outrage by writing and calling our Senators and Representatives. We can express our emotions and opinions by snail mail, electronic mail, and the Internet itself. To claim that destroying a symbol of our country and everything that it stands for is the one real way is simply untrue.
In Ronald Reagan's farewell address he told us to get back to basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual. He spoke of a shining city which in his mind was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here After two hundred years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness toward home. After all that, how can we want to destroy the regal, proud symbol that elegantly displays what our country stands for and so much more to Americans and those abroad.
This article copyright © 1999 by Cheryl Gevry, and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.