In the June 2019 issue of The American Legion magazine, Medal of Honor winner Army Maj. Gen. (retired) Patrick H. Brady makes a compelling argument for a constitutional amendment to protect the American Flag. The Philip native says the American Legion has been fighting this battle for the past 30 years since the Supreme Court, by a single vote in 1989, amended the Constitution by inserting flag desecration into the Bill of Rights.
This action by the high court voided flag protection laws across America. “It put flag burning in the same category with pornography as protected “speech,” writes Brady, for whom the former STAR Academy near Custer was named. “It took away from people the right to protect their flag, a right supported by every court up to 1989. And the court did this in response to a flag-burning by Gregory Johnson, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade,” Brady wrote.
The flag amendment says, “The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” Brady points out the amendment does not protect the flag, but simply allows people to protect it if they so choose. He says, “The goal is not to punish flag burners, but to recapture our Constitution.” We obviously can’t do anything about the numerous American flag burnings in other countries, but it would seem we can do something about it in our own country.
Brady says former Secretary of Defense James Mattis suggests an interesting penalty. “Forget jail if you burn the American flag. You’ll spend two years in the military. I promise you, you’ll be cured of the desire to burn our flag ever again. You’ll be waving it, saluting it, or … you’ll be lying under it,” Mattis said.
“Flag burning is not speech, period,” Brady says emphatically. “The U.S. flag is a symbol, and symbols are indispensable in a democracy.” The flag is seen everywhere in our country and at all kinds of community, sporting and patriotic events. What politician doesn’t have the flag in the background when he or she is speaking and want to appear really official?
Brady lauds President Donald Trump for his patriotism and denounces people like professional football player Colin Kaepernick and others who have disrespected our flag. “As would be expected, Trump was condemned for attacking freedom of ‘expression,’ yet he’s on the side of our founders, our Constitution and our people on this one,” Brady said.
The author acknowledges that the president has no say in constitutional amendments, but hopes someone can do something about those who would choose to desecrate our flag. We agree with Brady and support his and The American Legion’s efforts to enact legislation to protect Old Glory from any type of desecration.
The article by Brady is appropriate because we celebrate National Flag Day in our country every June 14. The Second Continental Congress adopted the United States Flag on this date in 1777. It was officially designated Flag Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and established as National Flag Day by Congress in 1949.
To those who have fought and died for it, the flag is more than just a piece of cloth. It represents the greatest nation in the world and is why so many people are seeking to come here and enjoy the freedoms it represents.
Long may she wave!