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Flag Worship or Flag Protest?


I often see memes and social media posts expressing a sentiment that burning or stomping on the US flag is bad. They state that flag desecration should either be made a felony or that it dishonors the members of our armed forces who sacrificed for that flag. I disagree. Flying the flag is cool. Protesting the flag is cool. Neglecting the flag, however, is very uncool.


Flag Worship - Acceptable!
Flying the flag is a great and wonderful thing. It shows patriotism and a nationalistic spirit that can bring us Americans together as a people (whatever that means). I fly flags all the time. Some of my best friends are flags. Flying the flag shows active and principled support of the country and/or government you believe in and serve. I am for this.

But, those who serve or served in our armed forces do not do so for a flag. I served in the US Marines for 12 years but did not serve for a flag. I served, we all served, for each other.1 For the fighter to our left and right, and for our families and friends back home. More importantly, we served and fought for the freedoms and rights that we are guaranteed in our country, in an effort to bring those freedoms to another place.

I stand at attention when the flag is raised and when I sing the national anthem. There is surely a lot of feeling when we see that flag that we wore, or that covers the coffin of our dead comrades. But that feeling does not come from the flag, it comes from the sacrifice we make. When we show reverence for the flag, we send a message. But there are other messages, too.

Remember that sacrifice is not exclusive to military veterans. Generations have sacrificed, and many had that sacrifice forced on them, to make the USA free in many different ways. It is a mistake to assume that a flag burner or stomper, or a National Anthem kneeler, does not respect the sacrifice that that flag symbolizes.

Flag Protest - Acceptable!
I think that burning2 or stomping3 on flags is fine. Likewise, kneeling during the national anthem is perfectly acceptable. Like proudly flying that flag, or standing up with your hand on your chest, protesting is sending a message. Rather than patriotism or nationalism, it shows nonconformism or tired-of-the-establishment-ism. It, too, is a principled position in support of the country you believe in, and the government you hope for. I am for this.

There are many things that make up the ineffable "USA", and a lot of that can be represented by a flag. But the flag is only a part and but a mere representation. The government that we elect is only a part of that ineffable whole. And burning the flag to protest the injustices and inequalities perpetrated or encouraged by that government honors the flag just as much as standing to attention. Wanting to make that form of protest illegal is unpatriotic, and is is an affront to many freedoms that many of us served to ensure.4

Flag Neglect - Unacceptable!
What I can't get behind is the middle ground. Neglect and ignorance. Flying a flag without knowing how to do it properly. Leaving a flag up overnight without it being lit. Leaving a tattered flag up. Hanging it vertically with the stars on the wrong side. If you are going to show your patriotism, do it properly.

If you pretend to be patriotic by putting a flag up, but you do not do so properly, you need to shape up! You hypocritically act as if you care about the sacrifice, and then you neglect the symbol that you claim is so important. I see these tattered flags all over the place. At churches and office buildings, homes and apartments. I served in the Marines so that people could participate in our government and way of life. I cannot stand faux patriotism.

I don't care if my fellow Americans are patriotic through flag worship or flag protests. But if you pretend to worship the flag, but don't care enough to make sure it's done properly, your passive use of a sacred symbol is shameful.

Anyhoo.... listen to each other. People who lovingly display the flag, tell people why you do so, and what the flag means to you. People who burn the flag, tell people why. And both sides listen need to listen and respect each other. Except for the negligent faux patriots, screw those folks who ignorantly display something so powerful to many people. To find out more about proper flag use, go to http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html



Well, that and I had NO PLACE ELSE TO GO!
See also "burnin'"
See also "stompin'"
It's also been confirmed as Constitutionally protected free speech like A LOT. See Texas v. Johnson, see also United States v. Eichman

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