Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July and Flags

What's wrong with this picture?

OK, I’ve eaten my hot dogs and engaged in my annual self-imposed ritual of reading the Declaration of Independence; I read the Constitution on New Years day. Now I can go on and listen to the illegal fireworks in the neighborhood. It seems that every neighborhood has its own bad boy pyrotechnic freak. At least mine doesn’t fire guns.

I got to thinking about the flag and the meaning of the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This past week the Senate failed to approve a flag-burning amendment by a single vote.

I don’t have a problem with the act of flag burning as a political protest. Read “Flag” at theblueflyer.com. I have problems with a protester stealing someone else’s flag. I have problems with a protester burning the flag when it constitutes disorderly conduct by starting a fistfight. I just don’t have a problem with it being a demonstration of an act of free speech.

I have a bigger problem with those who profess their support for the flag and at the same time disrespect it.

There is a congressionally approved flag code. It carries no criminal penalties, yet it sets out proper conduct regarding the flag.

The code dictates that it shall not, among other things, be used in advertising, or worn as clothing, or that it should be flown at night unlit, nor be displayed soiled.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Albuquerque Fire Department’s Engine 13 flies an American flag night and day. It is dirty and frayed.

According to the code this display violates the code's requirements:

"When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

The hypocrisy of claiming to respect the flag by flying it improperly is as disrespectful as burning it in protest.

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