Us Flag: A Symbol Worth Protection Essay, Research Paper
The Flag of the United States of America:
A Symbol that Requires Protection
Most people have at one point in their lives looked up at the American flag waving in the breeze on a light, clear day and thought about how lucky they are to live in the country that lies beneath that flag. And when you see those “broad stripes and bright stars” waving on the bow of one of our countries noble naval ships, you can?t help but feel proud of all those who have come before you and given their lives so that our lives might be better. And most all of us have also seen footage of that glorious flag being burned by those who are so pompous and arrogant that they feel they have the right to spit in the face of this great nation. Even though I believe that those people have the right to say and show what they believe in peaceful rallies, but burning the Flag of this great nation violent, wrong and should not be allowed to happen.
The Flag is the ultimate symbol of our country, democracy, and of all the people who have sacrificed their lives so that our freedom may be protected. Anyone who serves our country (policeman, military members, and political figures) and passes away, has the Flag of our country draped over their casket with the union at the head of the casket, over their left shoulder. During the funeral service, the Flag is folded and presented to the wife or mother of the deceased. Every single time the American Flag is burned in protest, the patriotism and pride of the person under that Flag is violated. Worst of all, the families? memories of their son, daughter, mother, father, husband, or wife who served our country is burned with it. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, all these people and thousands more have been buried in this manner and are disgraced every time fire is put to the Flag.
Not only does burning the Flag disgrace our country?s hero?s memories, it also disgraces the reason that they died and what they died for. A person being buried in this traditional fashion usually died because they were protecting our country, either from foreign enemies such as in the World Wars, or domestic enemies such as slavery and racism. These people gave their lives so that we (including those who burn flags) could live in a free country. By burning the flag, they show the ultimate ingratitude for those lives and spit in the face of the freedom and democracy they died for. Because of these brave people?s sacrifices, the United States of America is a free country with the highest standard of living in the world. What if our soldiers hadn?t fought Germany and Japan and instead just protested what the other countries were doing? Two racist governments would now cover most of the world and eventually would attack the US at home. We owe our forefathers and all those who came after them a huge debt of gratitude, and we should therefore not burn the very symbol of all they did for us.
After considering all this, many people still believe that they have the right to burn the Flag so that they may have their voices heard, and that that right is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. There are two major problems with this belief, though. First, by burning the Flag, you make so many people so angry that they won?t listen no matter what the protesters are saying. This is because they know that they don?t like what the protesters are doing and therefore don?t want to have anything to do with what the protesters are saying. Second, if you read the first amendment carefully, you can see that it actually doesn?t give the right to people to burn the Flag. What the First Amendment actually says is, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.” I completely agree with what the First Amendment says because it is very important for the people of this country, or any country, to be able to protest against something the government may be doing wrong. By having that right, the people can have their views heard and can change unfair laws and policies. This freedom to voice your opinions does not include the burning of the American Flag, however. The amendment specifically says, “or the right of the people to peaceably assemble.” Fire is the violent decomposition of molecules into more simple elements and can hardly be considered peaceful. And besides what fire actually does, it also has very violent connotations in our society. In our culture red is usually associated with evil which originally derived from the destructiveness of fire which is red. And in colonial America, towns such as Salem, Massachusetts would burn witches at the stake because they were supposedly evil. The simple fact is that fire is destructive and cannot be considered peaceful, but this applies only to assemblies. If that was all the First Amendment said, it could be interpreted that the individual could burn the Flag if the wished because there is no reference to the individual. But the First Amendment goes on to say, “and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.” Here, both the individual and the group are refereed to since both can petition the Government. The definition of a petition is, “a solemn supplication or request to a superior authority.” “Solemn supplication” means a deeply serious plea or request while burning the flag is an outrageous act that is used to make a point heard, but is never actually used to seriously request that something be done. Proper ways to petition the government would be to: peacefully protest, make lists of grievances, go on strikes, or boycott things, ect. Burning the flag just kicks dirt at people and serves no real purpose in requesting or demanding action.
Burning the Flag is a symbolic act of aggression against our countries? values, which were summed up best by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The symbolic act of violence towards out values are only the first step towards real violence. Jimmy Carter once said, “Aggression unopposed becomes a contagious disease.” In the case of Flag burning, this would mean that if we were to let these people get away with this symbolic threat of violence, soon it could spread and eventually lead to real violence. For example, look at Hitler?s Germany. Anti Jewish sentiment started with just the decimation of Jewish symbols and hate-filled speeches, which led to the formation of the getos and eventually to the infamous concentration camps. This shows how symbolic threats of violence can eventually lead to violence and destruction.
Besides those who think that it?s their right under the Constitution to burn the flag, there are those who feel that if they go out and buy a flag, it is their property and have the right to burn it if they wanted to. After all, graffiti may be a terrible crime, but that?s only because it?s defacing someone else?s private property. The problem is that while you may have bought that Flag with your own money, it?s still not your flag, it?s your country?s flag. It wasn?t you who labored your entire life to create the country that the Flag represents, nor was it you who gave your life so that the Flag could exist. The Flag being burnt is George Washington?s, Thomas Jefferson?s, Abraham Lincoln?s, and all those who strived to make this country a better place and to keep it safe.
But what if you own a building and you want the tear it down? You?re allowed to tear it down as long as you do it safely, so why shouldn?t you be allowed to rip or burn the flag that you bought as long as its done safely? The truth is though, that if the building you own happens to be a historic building, you most likely either won?t get the permits required to tear down that building, or the public will come out in force to stop the destruction of the landmark. So while you may own the building, in some cases you still can?t tear it down because of it?s importance to other people, just like you shouldn?t be able to burn the flag because of it?s importance to your country.
So not only is burning the flag immensely disrespectful to those who made this country possible and unconstitutional, it?s not even your flag to burn. Burning the flag of the United States of America is a display of violence toward our country and everything we hold dear. By burning the flag, that person is saying that the peace and freedom our forefathers worked so hard to create should not exist and it can easily be inferred that if someone?s views are so strong that they would hurt the symbol of our country, those views might be strong enough to hurt the country itself. By burning the US Flag, Flag burners destroy the very symbol of democracy and freedom thereby showing that they are against those qualities that make our country great. And if they feel so strongly that they must burn the Flag in order to attract attention to their cause, who?s to sake that terrorism with the burning of buildings won?t be far behind.
Work Cited for:
The Flag of the United States of America:
A Symbol that Requires Protection
- Simpson, James B. Simpson?s Contemporary Quotations. Politics and Government of the World: Jimmy Carter Columbia University Press, 1994: 55