2006-06-16 / Editorial/Opinion

It's My Turn

By Patrick H. Brady, Major General, US Army, Ret. Citizen's Flag Alliance

Patrick H. Brady is a retired Major General, U.S. Army and a highly decorated Veteran; Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor; and is serving as the Chairman of the Board of the Citizens Flag Alliance Inc., established in 1994 as a coalition of over 147 partner organizations totaling over 20 million members. The C.F.A. has fought to return to the people their right to protect "Old Glory".

The flag amendment reads: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

Study those words. Do they say, "Thou shalt not burn the flag"? Do they insert flag protection in the Constitution? Do they in and of themselves protect the flag? Could such words assault freedom of speech? Do they criminalize flag burners? Do those words require the Congress to protect the flag? How do those words change the Constitution?

In truth, the flag amendment does none of these things. Yet many in the media and their cronies claim it does all of these things.

What it does do is allow Congress to pass a law if it chooses to protect our flag. Why then is the flag amendment important? It is important because the government erred when it inserted flag burning in the Bill of Rights and called it "speech." It is important because the government, through the Supreme Court, took a right away from the American people, the right to protect our flag, a right we enjoyed since our birth as a nation. It is important because the government does not have the right to change our Constitution without the consent of the people. It is important because the people have a solemn obligation to correct the errors of our government.

The flag amendment also is because it does the same thing that almost all of the amendments to our Constitution do: It grants a right to the people, a right that, in this case, was taken away by the government. The government has laid a minefield around Old Glory. The flag amendment clears that minefield.

I once landed my helicopter ambulance in a minefield. The wounded troops were scattered among the mines. No soldier would move. They would not budge even to bring their own wounded to my aircraft. My two crewmen looked at me, and I said simply, "Go get 'em." And they did. They literally ran into the minefield and began to carry the wounded to our aircraft. In the process they set off a mine that physically blew them into the air and filled our helicopter with holes. But they got up and finished the job. They rescued all the wounded.

That is my message to all who support Old Glory. Go get 'em. Rescue our flag. Know you will be entering a minefield. The media will ridicule you. Politicians will trivialize the issue. Many believe it is hokey. Heads will turn and doors will close. Some will demonize you for trying to protect and keep a Constitution that does not fit their distorted vision. The truth will be lost in the melee, and you will be knocked down again and again, but get up and finish the mission. Rip away the cover of those who hide behind a statute.

While you are in that minefield, be comforted by the fact that America is with you. You are fighting for our rights. You are protected by the right of the people to define our Constitution; the right of the people to redress our government for a grievance.

We need one vote in the Senate.

Go get that vote.

Go get the senators who refuse to let the people decide. If you are a Republican, tell Senators Mitch McConnell and Robert Bennett you know as well as they should that a statute will not work. If they truly want the flag protected, they need to vote for the flag amendment first. A statute requires the amendment in order to withstand Supreme Court scrutiny. First the amendment, then the statute - the only way the flag can be protected.

The passage of the flag amendment is part of their party's platform. If they aspire to lead their party, they should know that leaders need to be team players; they will be asking others to do that. They don't need to change their mind. They just need to change their vote and let the people decide. They should join their own team and the 50 states that want them to return to the people the right to protect Old Glory. They should heed the words of Thomas Jefferson: "It is my principle that the will of the majority should always prevail," and, "I readily suppose my opinion wrong, when opposed by the majority." If their vote kills the flag amendment, it will certainly cripple their leadership.

If you are a Democrat, thank Senators Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein for their support. It takes a lot of courage to oppose the majority of their party, Senate Democrats, who oppose the flag amendment by 85 percent. Ask them to lead their party back into the mainstream of America, where some 75 percent support their right to protect the flag. A vote for the flag amendment could start that process.

My crewmen were heroes in that minefield. They rescued many dying soldiers that day. Some senator can be a hero. His or her vote can rescue Old Glory from the tyranny of the courts. One vote can prove that the majority in this country counts when it wears working cloths, not just when it wears black robes. That vote can clear the mines around our flag and begin to clear from the Court's minefield - prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, marriage, property rights - and blow away the court-built barriers around pornography and obscenity.

One vote could be historic.

It could begin the restoration of our Constitution to where it was for more than 100 years.

Please contact Senators Clinton and Schumer and respectfully demand their support for SJR 12, The Flag Amendment, when it comes to the floor of the Senate this June, 2006.

"Let the People Decide"!

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