Burning the America Flag
We, as Americans burn our beloved flag when it is old, worn and tattered. We burn it in a special Flag Retirement Ceremony. As a matter of fact, in many cities across America, scout and veteran groups take in flags for this specific purpose. They will ceremonially burn one flag representing all of the others (sometimes hundreds), and then incinerate the rest. This is a great way to show respect for Old Glory.
While I was on the Base Honor Guard at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, (before the internet) I had a local woman call and explain that she had cleaned out her grill so that she could burn her own worn out American flag. She was very concerned and wanted to make sure that she was doing everything correctly. I assured her that what she had done was fine and thanked her for her diligence and respect and that it was what was in her heart that mattered and that it was quite obvious that she had every intention of utmost repsect. There is, however, another way to burn the flag.
The young man pictured at right is burning the American flag in protest. Many veterans and patriotic Americans find this so reprehensible that they support a Constitutional Amendment to make the act a crime. I do not support an amendment. You might be wondering how on earth, after 20+ years in the Air Force and JROTC/ROTC, etc. could I possibly say that? Freedom of speech.
“Don’t give me that ‘freedom of speech’ line!”
It is freedom of speech to burn the American flag. At least some see it that way. I, in no way, support burning the flag in protest, ever. I believe that those who do burn the flag most likely are unable to articulate their concerns and resort to such an inflammatory (no pun intended) action only to gain immediate publicity. Flag burning does nothing but make a large section of the American public dislike the people and their cause for which the crass action was committed. There are better ways to exercise your First Amendment rights, much better ways.
The upside down flag
There is a short video of two protesters on a scooter riding around with the flag upside down [language] and a Soldier and Marine run after them wanting to do them physical harm. While I understand the passion these two military men have for their flag and country, what they did was not what America is about.
You can see in these pictures, that even members and veterans of America’s military use the upside down flag- a symbol of distress and NOT disrespect– as a way to show their concern for America. I support this. I do not support writing on the flag unless absolutely necessary- but I cannot think of an instance where it may be necessary.
Lastly, on upside down flags, toward the end of the movie, The Last Castle, the commander of the military prison yells out something like, “don’t let them disrespect the flag!” as the prisoners are attempting, and rightfully so, to raise the flag upside down. I do not remember if the flag is actually raised, but it should be, in my opinion- watch the movie, it is quite good. The point here is that popular knowledge is usually based on information like this and then couples with the pride that swells in the hearts of the patriotic. All without basis in truth.
Disrespect to the flag is against the law!
No, it is not. Whether it is urban legend or just a lack of education on the subject, one can wipe their feet with the Stars and Stripes, if one so chooses, in front of the police and not be taken into custody.
I have written all kinds of articles regarding the proper use and display of our flag and have researched all the information I could find. While I do not expect every American to fully know all of the Flag Code and what guidance each branch of our armed forces has published, I do hope that Americans, especially my military brothers and sisters, read up and understand this published guidance.