Like many people in the community that likes to refer to itself as America’s Hometown, I could not believe it last week when I heard that someone had burned the U.S. flag atop Lover’s Leap.
It is not uncommon to open a newspaper and see some idiots burning a U.S. flag in protest over some real or perceived indiscretion. Typically these individuals do so with covered faces so they cannot be identified, despite the fact their protests are being carried out in a far off land.
In some ways the vandal who torched the Lover’s Leap flag is akin to other cowardly flag burners around the world who conceal their identity. However, instead of a mask, our local vandal hid his or her identity by carrying out the disgusting deed in the dead of night.
However, unlike many flag burners, who set ablaze Old Glory in protest of a policy or action, chances are good the local flag burner carried out the act for no good reason, other than to blindly destroy something. No political agenda. No issue to resist. No policy to protest.
While I stand and state the Pledge of Allegiance before each City Council meeting and put my cap over my heart while standing at attention during the singing of the National Anthem before Cavemen and Cardinals games, those acts only qualify me to be a disgusted American because someone burned a flag in Hannibal. I can only imagine the seething sense of disdain this action churned up in families who have lost a family member while in service of the stars and stripes. And what must our local veterans be feeling because of this blatant sign of disrespect?
While the Parks Department and police are optimistic that someone will slip up and start talking about their late-night escapade overlooking the Mississippi River, I’m a realist. I understand it will be difficult to catch, let alone punish, someone for this act. In the court system the crime will likely rank as nothing more than simple property damage, as if someone broke out a window.
Want real justice? Turn the individual over to the local American Legion Post and allow its members to come up with a suitable punishment. I personally like the notion of making the hoodlum wear an “I Burned the Flag” T-shirt for a week while sharing a barracks with a unit of Army Rangers or Navy Seals. I bet they could come up with far more creative and lasting forms of punishment than a judge can.
Yes, the burning of a U.S. flag in our community has got my blood pumping. But torching Old Glory is not my only pet peeve when it comes to the treatment of our country’s pennon.
Page 2 of 2 - I respect households, private businesses and public entities that want to show their support of our country by flying the flag, whether it be a massive banner atop a tall pole, or a small pennant attached to a short stick that is stuck in the ground.
What saddens me is when I see flags continue to be flown after they have begun to show signs of wear. You don’t have to look too hard to find flags that are shredded, faded, dirty, or all of the above.
Rule of thumb: If a flag is so tattered that you wouldn’t want it draped over a loved one’s coffin, it should be honorably retired.
I assume people fly Old Glory to show their support for the land of the free and home of the brave. What sort of message is conveyed by flying a worn out flag? It certainly can’t be “I love America!” If anything, it qualifies another sign of disrespect.