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The Tomahawk Leader is a state and national prize-winning weekly newspaper serving the scenic Northwoods area in and around Tomahawk, WI.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:21 pm 
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Guest Editorial

By Daniel S. Wheeler
The American Legion

Often I am asked by reporters, “What harm does it do to burn a flag?” This question usually comes from young men and women, most of whom aren’t veterans, and I frequently sense that they really don’t understand why this issue is important.

Recently, I was asked this question: “Tommy Lasorda told the story of a flag burning during a Dodger game in 1976 where Rick Monday ran out on the field and tore the flag away from a protestor. When they became aware of what had happened, the crowd stood and sang ‘God Bless America.’ Doesn’t that prove that we don’t need the flag-protection amendment?”
I was reminded of what Gen Patrick H. Brady, Medal of Honor recipient, said. He pointed out that nobody can change your mind or my mind about protecting our flag. It’s the children of America that we have to think about.

What happens when they lose, or are no longer taught, respect for our flag? What will happen when an enemy threatens our nation, or even attacks our country, and our moral fiber has become so desensitized – our patriotism has been so eroded – that ordinary citizens aren’t willing to stand and fight for the United States?

Brady reflects on those who have died in battle, and those who risked their lives for this great country. He says that the men who wear the Medal of Honor risked their lives for their country – many of them died – but he wonders if they would be willing to risk their lives for the “country we are becoming.”

Then I think about those thousands of men and women singing “God Bless America” in Dodger Stadium. Why were they doing it? Well, obviously they did it because they loved their flag.
Throughout the lives of those who rose to their feet, we had laws protecting Old Glory. Many probably risked their lives in her defense. They understood that “the tree of Liberty is watered with the blood of patriots.”

That’s why they stood and sang.

But what of this generation, and of the next? What are they being taught about love of country? How many of them will start each school day pledging their allegiance to our flag, as most of us did? How many of them will learn the proper way to respect her, and what she means and why patriotism is important?
Twenty years from now, when another Rick Monday snatches a flag from someone who is trying to burn it, will the crowd still sing “God Bless America,” or will it rise in anger because the game has been delayed?

It’s certainly true – as we’ve heard people say – one person burning a flag, or urinating on it, or defecating on it, or trampling it under his feet, will not harm Old Glory. But it’s not true that no harm is done.

The harm is done if the American people fail to respond to such vile and hurtful conduct. The harm is done only if, by our apathy, we condone the defiling of the banner that has draped the caskets of our American heroes. Edmund Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Failure to protect our flag by law is not a celebration of liberty; it is the celebration of evil. A great nation cannot preserve its greatness by turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to that which is wrong, to that which is destructive, to that which is immoral and evil.

What harm does it do to burn a flag?

Over time it destroys the very fabric of our nation. It undermines the goodness that makes us great; and it ensures that future generations will not stand and spontaneously sing “God Bless America” because they will not know that – once – God did.

(Editor’s note: Daniel S. Wheeler is the president of the Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc., and executive director of The American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:53 am 
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The Flag stands for our way of life and what all the soldiers have fought for, for many years. I do not take this lightly, and I am sure all the loved ones that lost family and freinds do not either. We are losing our patriotism as a country, and the schools have to watch what they teach and not cross any lines. Last time I checked this was AMERICA and we fought to have the freedom that is slowly bieng taken away, starting with our schools. No praying allowed, and will they take God Bless America out, since God is in the phrase? People are so worried about teaching what not believe that we have lost the whole concept of what this country and flag were built on. I am just so angry with the people that say we don't need to fight for our country or for our national anthem or for anything that this country has built it's beliefs on. HAVE WE ALL FORGOTTEN WHAT IT HAS TAKEN TO HAVE THIS WAY OF LIFE THAT WE LIVE, AND LOVE, AND THE ONES WHO HAVE DIED HOLDING THAT FLAG IN THERE HEARTS, SO IT IS POSSIBLE TO STILL HAVE THIS FREEDOM WE ALL LOVE? TEACHING OUR KIDS ABOUT THE HERITAGE OF THIS WONDERFUL COUNTRY AND HOW IT CAME TO BE THIS WAY SHOULD BE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS READING, MATH, NOT DOING DRUGS, MANNERS, RESPECT, MORALS, AND TO STAND PROUD AND NEVER BACK DOWN IN WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN. :mad:

<small>[ June 28, 2006, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: sweetpeasearching ]</small>


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