Few Americans would disagree that our nation’s flag is a symbol of great importance, especially to those of us who have served and fought under its stars and stripes, or who have known a member of our military who has given his or her life for our country.
Sadly, there are some who have taken to burning and desecrating this sacred emblem of our Republic, often in order to make a political point. For example, a small business in Boulder recently had its American flag burned. Such attacks on our flag are an attack on the legacy of service, bravery and sacrifice of those who have fought, and died, for our country.
As a retired U.S. Marine who is active in veterans’ issues, I have the opportunity of working closely with many current and former members of America’s armed forces here in Montana, brave men and women who have risked their lives defending our national sovereignty and individual liberties. Politicians often like to associate themselves with our servicemen and women in press quotes, photo opportunities and television ads, but the true test of a public servant’s loyalty to our veterans is where he or she stands on the issues that matter deeply to us.
I sincerely thank Montana’s Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Denny Rehberg for their strong support of a Constitutional amendment to protect our American flag from desecration. Both Baucus and Rehberg have been consistent advocates for protecting the sanctity of our nation’s flag from those who would burn, deface or destroy it. And both have done much on behalf of Montana’s many servicemen and women and their families, ensuring that our nation keeps its solemn promises to those who serve and sacrifice so we may enjoy America’s liberty and opportunity.
Unfortunately, when it comes to protecting our flag, our state’s Sen. Jon Tester does not agree. Responding to inquiries on the matter, Tester says that “changing [the Constitution] should be reserved only for the most urgent national priorities,” and he does not believe protecting our flag falls into this category. This puts him at odds with Baucus and Rehberg, along with the majority of veterans’ organizations.
Like Rehberg and Baucus, Tester has done much on behalf of Montana’s military men and women, and I thank him for his work. But I take strong issue with his position that the American flag is not important enough to warrant Constitutional protection.
On so many issues of consequence to our military veterans, all three members of our Montana delegation – Baucus, Tester and Rehberg – have worked as a team to produce results. It is unfortunate that that is not the case when it comes to protecting our flag from desecration.
A Constitutional amendment to protect our flag requires two-thirds support in both the House and Senate before it can be sent to the states for ratification. A 2006 effort to pass such an amendment fell just one vote short in the Senate. With strong support from Montana veterans and the backing of two of our state’s three members of Congress, I urge Montanans to contact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner, and request that they hold a vote on a Constitutional amendment to protect our American flag.
Elmer Palmer is a Retired Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant and Vietnam Veteran
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