Political News And Protests
In recent American political news and protests we have seen multiple people burning the American flag. All these events have taken flight after Donald Trump was named president elect. Throughout history the burning of the American flag has been used as symbolic speech to show disagreement over political decisions or policies. As Americans we are almost used to seeing the American flag being burned after every controversial political event. But is this desecration of the American flag something we should be getting used to? As Americans we tend to forget history and the symbolism behind our flag. In other countries it is illegal to burn the national flag but not in the United States since 1969. It was ruled by the Supreme Court as protected by the first amendment under freedom of speech and penalty is unconstitutional.
American Flag Symbolism
The American flag has incredible meaning behind it including liberty, justice and freedom. The 50 stars represent the number of states. The 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from Great Britain becoming the first states. The flag colors have meaning as well. The Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice. Due to the meaning above is that our flag is displayed on American military uniforms, astronaut suits, museums, monuments, during national holidays, American territory, civil servant funerals and historic buildings. So how can this patriotic symbol which holds so much meaning behind it be allowed to be burned? What type of message are we sending to others by doing so?
Flag Etiquette Often Forgotten
The United States Flag Code sets the advisory rules for display and care of our national flag. It is a U.S. federal law but failure to comply is not enforced due to the first amendment. Here are the advisory rules:
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation.
- The flag should never be displayed with the union (the starred blue union in the Canton) down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
- The flag should not be used as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”, or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general (exception for coffins).
- The flag should never be drawn back or bunched up in any way.
- The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose.
- The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
- The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.
- Flag lapel pins may also be worn (they are considered replicas) and are worn near the heart.
- The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it or attached to it.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- The flag should never be stepped on.
- In a parade, the flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle, railroad train, or boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
- If the flag is being used at a public or private estate, it should not be hung (unless at half staff or when an all-weather flag is displayed) during rain or violent weather.
- When a flag is so tattered that it no longer fits to serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.
- The flag should never touch anything beneath it.
- The flag should always be permitted to fall freely.
You Have The Right
Under U.S law you currently have the right to burn an American flag. On the other hand the choice is yours. Is it okay to act the same as those enemies who often pledge “death to America” by burning our flag? Should burning an American flag be illegal? There are many other ways of exercising freedom of speech and protesting. Nowadays it seems that only during moments of chaos such as 9/11 people find pride and unity by displaying the American flag.