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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Flag Burning
by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
In this weeks paper there is a photograph I find very disturbing.

It was taken in Boston on the last day of the 2004 Democratic convention and shows a group of protesters watching a masked woman burning an effigy of John Kerry and George Bush along with an American flag.

Now, the point of this article is to say I may not agree with burning effigies of politicians, regardless of what party, but if that floats your boat, then so be it. You donít like George Bush, John Kerry or Donald Duck for one reason or another, then have at it. Shoot your best shot. Stand on your soapbox, mail flyers, start a talk radio or television show; starve yourself to death for all I care.

Burning the flag of this country is another thing entirely, in my opinion.


What this flag symbolizes to me is the freedom that allows people to stand in our streets and protest such as this group in this photograph. The right to do such activities was not cheap and was bought with the lives and sacrifices of countless millions over the past couple of hundred years. Iíd be willing to bet there isnít one of us in this country who doesnít have someone in our family history who either served this country during itís times of need or helped in some way or another to make our country free.

Iím looking at the faces of the crowd surrounding this woman as she commits this despicable act. Theyíre smiling or laughing as if this is an event and not really any big deal. Just another media opportunity, take some pictures and move on.

But it is a big deal.

Try doing what this woman is doing in say, Nazi Germany or Stalinís Russia. Try this today in downtown Beijing and see what would happen to you. In a world where we still have countries which donít allow women to vote or drive, or where children of nine and ten years old work twelve to fourteen hours each day, shouldnít our flag be precious to us?

I think so.

To protest anything in this country is certainly your right, not your God given right, but your right that was given by those whom I mentioned earlier. To ignore their sacrifices and commitments to our freedom is to spit upon their graves. Our country certainly isnít perfect. It has faults, but itís comprised of human beings and weíre certainly far from being perfect, arenít we? Our country was founded on the premise of freedom and that is one goal it strives to maintain, in spite of everything and everyone having differences of opinion. What nation can you think of that survived a civil war and is still one nation with the same form of government? What nation can you think of that went to two world wars as a united nation in less than eighty years after their own civil war? What other country has shown that level of unity?

Our second president, John Adams, was said to be terrified at the thought of Thomas Jefferson becoming the president. Why? Because in Europe, the incoming administrations nearly always found some way or method to do away with (execute or imprison) their predecessors. America had never had the government change from one party to another, so his fears could have very well been founded.

Iím glad to say, nothing happened and freedom has prevailed over these years. To be sure, weíve made mistakes and weíll continue to make mistakes along the way. That doesnít mean weíre a nation of bad people. Just a nation of people, from different backgrounds, races, levels of education and economic strata.

What allows us to live here and keep on trying is the flag. It is the symbol of our country and should not be desecrated or taken lightly. It is to be revered as the flag of all of our people and for all of our people. If we didnít have it and what it stands for then we wouldnít allow our citizens to demonstrate much less protest their own government.

I suppose thatís all I have to say, except for one more thing. I find it curious that the woman burning the flag is wearing a mask. If she is so positive about what she is doing and thinks it is right and proper, then why the mask?

If you canít stand up and show your face for what you believe or donít believe, than you must not believe in your cause very well.
© Peary Perry
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
Letters From North America
- October 11 , 2005 column
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