Dear Legion Family Members and Friends,
Our nation’s flag is under attack. Protesters set it afire in a misguided attempt to promote their causes. Athletes fall to their knees instead of raising hands to hearts during the national anthem. And, more recently, a small college in Massachusetts has removed the flag from campus.
While Americans have a constitutional right to express their opinions in such ways, The American Legion strongly believes the flag is a symbol of our nation’s freedom, secured by the servicemen and women who sacrificed so much for all citizens.
As you may know, The American Legion has regularly encouraged Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that would give it the power to protect the Stars and Stripes from desecration.
But we are not alone in this belief. The U.S. House has routinely passed such an amendment. Every state has endorsed such a resolution. And surveys show that 80 percent of Americans agree that the flag should be protected.
Now, President-elect Donald Trump has called for penalties against those who treat the American flag with disrespect. In a tweet, Trump wrote, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
While The American Legion does not have a position on what the penalty should be for those who violate our sacred flag, it does stand resolute in petitioning Congress for the necessary constitutional amendment.
Our belief is not to silence those who protest perceived injustices. Americans have the right to voice their views in respectful ways.
Instead, our view is that the American flag should be held in the highest regard by all Americans. Military members and Veterans — and citizens, too — offer salutes. Athletes and fans should stand respectfully when the national anthem is being played. And it should not be used as a prop in a publicity campaign by a small college or other institutions.
But most of all, the men and women of the incoming Congress should heed President-elect Trump’s message and declare flag desecration off-limits with a constitutional amendment.
Carry the legacy forward.
Charles E. Schmidt