What do we do about people who want to burn the American flag? You
know...those folks who want to stomp all over it, or spit on it to make some
sort of "statement." Some say the first Amendment gives us the right to
desecrate the American flag. Others want to make it illegal. This is a tough
one. What should we do? I can solve this one easily. I believe we should
have a simple requirement. Let flag desecration be legal, but you have to
have three sponsors who will give you written permission. Those sponsors
should be from a panel of experts who might be considered "qualified" to give
First, you need a signature of a war veteran. How about a Marine who fought
at Iwo Jima?
The men who raised that flag over Iwo Jima did so on the bodies of
thousands of dead Americans, who gave their lives so a few could raise the
flag in defiant claim of that last island in a long, bloody march to defeat the
Japanese. What did those Marines think about the flag as they watched their
comrades get slaughtered? Every battle with the Japanese was horrific. Each
day meant half of everyone you knew would be dead tomorrow. Your own
future was a coin flip away from a bloody death in a place your family couldn't
pronounce. Or you could ask a Vietnam vet who spent years in a POW
prison, tortured in small, filthy cells unfit for a dog. Or Korean War soldiers
who rescued half a nation from communism, or the Desert Storm warriors
who repulsed a bloody dictator from raping and pillaging an innocent country,
to find people from a foreign land kiss our flag as we drove through their streets.
To every American soldier who ever fought for the United States, that flag
represented your mother and father, your sister and brother, your friends,
neighbors, your fellow countrymen...In fact it stands for your freedom,
guaranteed by your nation. Those who fought, fought for that flag.
Those who died, died for that flag. I wonder what they would say if someone
asked their permission to burn a flag?
Next, you need a signature of an immigrant. Preferably one who left their
family behind. Their brothers and sisters languish in their native land, often
subject to tyranny, poverty and failure, while America offers freedom and prosperity.
Some have seen friends and family be tortured and murdered by their own
government for daring to do many things we take for granted every day.
Many give their lives in the struggle just to touch our shores, even as America
turns its back and returns them to face persecution once again in their native
land. For those who risked everything simply for the chance to become an
American...what kind of feelings do they have for the flag when they pledge
allegiance to it for the first time? Go to a naturalization ceremony and see for
yourself, the tears of pride, the thanks, the love and respect of this nation, as
they finally embrace the flag of our nation as their own. Then, walk up and
ask one of them if it would be OK to spit on the flag.
Last, you need a signature from someone living in a foreign land who cannot
get here. Say, Rwanda. Or maybe Bosnia. Maybe even Haiti. You might have
to move fast, as they flee oppressors who attack them with machete's or
shoot at them randomly in a marketplace. I'm sure they will never question
your sanity as they duck for cover.
The writers of the Declaration of Independence are long gone. I wonder what
they thought of the American flag as they drafted that document? They knew
such an act would drag the nation into war with England, the greatest power
on earth. Did the flag mean anything to them?
They knew failure of independence meant more than just a disappointment. It
meant a noose would be snugly stretched around their necks. I wonder how
they'd feel if someone asked their permission to toss the flag in a mud puddle?
In the absence of family, the absence of the precious shores of home, in the
face of overwhelming odds and often in the face of death itself, the American
flag inspires those who believe in the American dream, the American promise,
the American vision...
Americans who don't appreciate the flag are usually those who don't
appreciate this nation. And those who appreciate this nation appreciate the
So if you would, before you desecrate the American flag, before you spit on it,
before you ignore it or despise it...please ask permission. Not from the
constitution. Not from some obscure law. Not from the politicians or the pundits.
Please ask permission from those who founded the nation. Please ask those
who defended our shores so that we may be free today. Please ask those
who fought to reach our shores so that they may partake in the American dream.
And then, please ask permission from those who died wishing they could, just
once ... or once again...see, touch or kiss the flag that stands for our nation,
the United States of America...the greatest nation on earth.
~Author Tom Adkins~