William G. Sizemore, 33°, G.C.
1733 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-3103
The flag represents the values, traditions, and aspirations that
bind us together as a nation.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 21, 1989, by a five-to-four vote, in Texas v. Johnson, that burning the American Flag is free speech protected under the First Amendment. This ruling invalidated flag-protection laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia. In response to this ruling, the U.S. House and Senate adopted a federal statute to protect the flag. Again the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the statute unconstitutional. This ruling convinced me and many millions of other concerned Americans that the only avenue for legal protection of the flag is through an amendment to the Constitution.
Almost eight years later, on June 12, 1997, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 54, a proposed flag-protection amendment, by a vote of 310 to 114. On February 4, 1998, S.J. Res. 40 was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Max Cleland (D-GA). The amendment has 57 co-sponsors to date. The amendment reads: “Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”
The Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc. (CFA) is a coalition of 125 national organizations, (including the Scottish Rite, Southern and Northern Masonic Jurisdictions) representing more than 20 million Americans, with one mission and one mission only -- to return to the American people the right to protect their flag. The CFA is an apolitical, non-partisan confederation of American organizations and individuals representing citizens from every aspect of our culture and organized in every state.
In addition to the support of member organizations, forty-nine state legislatures have petitioned Congress for the amendment. Eighty-one percent of Americans favor a flag-protection amendment, according to a May 1997 national survey conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide. In poll after poll since 1989 -- both nationally and at the state level -- Americans have overwhelmingly supported constitutional protection for the flag.
This is a values issue for all Americans. Our nation is a tapestry of diverse peoples. The uniqueness of the United States is our diversity. The flag represents the values, traditions, and aspirations that bind us together as a nation. It stands above our differences and unites us in war and in peace. The flag amendment does not change the Constitution. All it does is return to the American people the right to protect their flag. The real victims of flag burning are our children. The greatest tragedy in flag mutilation is the disrespect it teaches our children -- disrespect for the values our flag embodies and disrespect to those who have sacrificed for those values.
Burning a flag is not speech, it is conduct. To me, personally, and to millions of Americans, it is an insult to call flag burning “speech.” Just because five of nine Supreme Court Justices several years ago ruled it legal to burn our flag, doesn’t make it right.
The Citizens Flag Alliance is inviting Americans to fly the U.S. flag every day from Memorial Day until Veterans Day to honor the traditions that preserve our democracy and to reject those that erode it. Fly your flag and join the millions of Americans in demonstrating to the U.S. Senate the strong support that exists across the nation towards passage of the flag protection constitutional amendment.
For more information, please contact: Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc., PO Box 7197, Indianapolis, IN 46207-7197