The recent vote on an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit burning of the national flag has elicited many comments. Having always been against such an amendment, I was pleased that it did not pass. As an action falling within the provisions of the First Amendment of the Constitution, I have been amazed that so many people, especially our senators, were in favor of it. Ott Johnson’s comment equating such an act with the crime of murder was mind boggling, to say the least.

There have been two recent articles which I found to be most informative and sensible concerning this matter. One is the essay in Time magazine July 3. It is by Ret. Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, titled “Forget Flag Burning.” He indicates there are more urgent matters facing us and our troops. Two sentences in his article pretty well sum up the true situation. He says, “The American flag symbolizes freedom. The Constitution we soldiers are pledged to defend guarantees freedom of expression even when freedom of expression includes the right to deface the flag, however obnoxious that act may be.”

The other article was on the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal of July 3. It was written by Christopher Hitchins. He is a columnist for Vanity Fair and recently wrote a book, “Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.” A further interesting fact about him is that he is a naturalized citizen. As such, he gave great study to the Constitution as he prepared for American citizenship.

The title of his article is “The Flag Fetish.” The writing is eloquent and enlightening. I wish all of us would make the effort to read it. I wish the NewsPress could print the entire thing.

Most of us may have thoughts and opinions that were instilled within us by parents, other persons or events of a long distant past. We may not have had the opportunity or the time to give more study to the matter at hand. This seems to me to be particularly true in matters of religion and patriotism. We can certainly see that in others.

It is obvious that many Muslim people grow up with fixed “anti” feelings about other people and other ideas that they have never had the inclination, for whatever reason, to make a more rational/complete study about. We should not fall into that category. The thoughts expressed in the above noted essays present good reasoning for all of us to consider, if we truly want to understand the current matter of “flag burning.” We need to be careful that we do not become nor strongly support those who are fanatics meeting the old definition as “those who have redoubled their efforts after losing sight of their goals.”

We are free people. We need to understand why we are free and what has made that so. In addition we need to continue to read and study information that is available to us because we are free. Surely it is apparent to all of us there are untold millions of people who are not free and furthermore do not have the opportunity to read and hear other information concerning many aspects of their lives.

I want to be sure you who read this have no misunderstanding about my general position on patriotism and the flag. I spent 26 years in the Navy. I have a flag which I fly much of the time. I do not, and would not, treat the flag in an improper way. My wife’s father was a long-time Army officer, and she has strong feelings of patriotism and honor to the flag. This letter expresses our mutual feelings about the flag.

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