Just Ask Permission
By Tom Adkins
Does the First Amendment give us the right to desecrate the American
flag? Or is the flag a sacred symbol of our nation, deserving protection by
law? Tough call?
I've got the solution.
For those who want to light Old Glory on fire, stomp all over it or
spit on it to make some sort of "statement," I say let them do it. But
under one condition: They must get permission.
First, you need permission of a war veteran. Perhaps a marine who
fought at Iwo Jima?
The American flag was raised over Mount Surabachi upon the bodies of
thousands of dead buddies. Each night on Iwo meant half of everyone you
knew would be dead tomorrow, a coin flip away from a bloody end upon a patch
of sand your mother couldn't find on a map.
Or maybe ask a Vietnam vet who spent tortured years in a small, filthy
cell unfit for a dog. Or a Korean War soldier who rescued half a nation
from communism, or a Desert Storm warrior who repulsed a bloody dictator
from raping and pillaging an innocent country.
That flag represented your mother and father, your sister and brother,
your friends, neighbors and everyone at home.
I wonder what they would say if someone asked their permission to burn
the American flag?
Next, ask an immigrant. Their brothers and sisters may still languish
in their native land, often under tyranny, poverty and misery. Maybe they
died on the way here, never to touch our shores. Some have seen friends and
family get tortured and murdered by their own government for daring to do
things we take for granted.
For those who risked everything simply for the chance to become an
American . . . what feelings do they have for the flag when they pledge
allegiance 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 American flag as their own.
Ask one of them if it would be okay to tear up the flag.
Last, you should ask a mother. Not just any mother, but a mother who
gave a son or daughter for America. It doesn't even have to be in war. It
could be a cop. A fireman. Maybe a Secret Service agent. Then again, it
could be a common foot soldier. When that son or daughter is laid to rest,
their family is given one gift by the American people: an American flag.
Go on. I dare you. Ask that mother to spit on her flag.
I wonder what the founding fathers thought of the American flag as they
drafted the Declaration of Independence? They knew this act would drag
young America into war with England, the greatest power on Earth. They also
knew failure meant more than disappointment. It meant a noose snugly
stretched around their necks. But they needed a symbol, something to
inspire the new nation. Something to represent the serious purpose and
conviction we held for our new idea of individual freedom. Something worth
living for. Something worth dying for. I wonder how they'd feel if someone
asked them permission to toss their flag in a mud puddle?
Away from family, away from the precious shores of home, in the face of
overwhelming odds and often in the face of death, the American flag inspires
those who believe in the American dream, the American promise, the American
vision. . . .
Americans who don't appreciate the flag don't appreciate this nation.
And those who appreciate this nation appreciate the American flag. Those
who fought, fought for that flag. Those who died, died for that flag. And
those who love America, love that flag. And defend it.
So if you want to desecrate the American flag, before you spit on it or
before you burn it . . . I have a simple request. Just ask permission. Not
from the Constitution. Not from some obscure law. Not from the politicians
or the pundits. Instead, ask those who defended our nation so that we may
be free today. Ask those who struggled to reach our shores so that they may
join us in the American dream. And ask those who clutch a flag in place of
their sacrificed sons and daughters, given to this nation so that others may
be free. For we cannot 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.