Current Commentary

Veterans Take
Guest Editor
Curtis Hendel


Don’t Burn My Flag!

On February 23rd, 1945, a five man Marine patrol and a Navy corpsman led by Sgt. Mike Strank climbed to the summit of Mt. Surabachi on the island of Iwo Jima. Just four days into the invasion of the heavily defended island the mountain had been taken and the mission was clear. Raise the United States flag on it's summit. This became one of the most famous war photographs ever taken. The fight for Iwo Jima would last more than three weeks after that flag was raised, but all of the Marines on the island, and the Japanese defenders, knew that the Marines would win after that. That flag had a very profound effect, motivating the U.S. Marines and breaking down the morale of the Japanese.

Years after that famous and brutal battle, protesters in the United States started to burn the American flag to show their angst for the Vietnam War and our government. Since that time it has become a matter of constitutional freedom whether or not an American has the right to burn an American flag as a symbol of protest.

Our flag has been called the “Stars and Stripes”, “Old Glory”, and other names. It has had songs written about it and what it stands for. The flag has changed and grown with our country, it is the one thing that cannot be mistaken when seen anywhere the world. So do Americans have the right to burn it?

Our flag is one of the few material things that can be seen as a living object. It is the most important symbol to our country, as are the flags of other countries to them. When I see people of other countries on the evening news burning the American flag to protest our actions it angers me. But these people are not from here, and are ignorant to what is really going on here. When I see Americans burning their own flag it infuriates me. How someone with the greatest freedoms on earth can desecrate the very symbol of all of those freedoms is beyond me.

Those of us who served in the military at war or peace understand that the flag is to be protected. We followed all the customs and courtesies; we never allowed a flag to touch the ground. We always stopped and saluted at reveille and retreat. You never, ever, disrespected the flag. Even after eleven years removed from the military I always notice every flag that is being displayed. A flag always stirs my soul with patriotism and pride. So do me a favor, DON'T BURN OUR FLAG.

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