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Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 11:33 a.m. CDT

To the editor:

I am writing this letter as an active member of the Jasper County Veterans community.

It has been brought to my attention, by several fellow vets, that there is an individual in our county that has chosen to fly their American Flag upside down at their personal residence.

The United States Flag Code states that the U.S. flag should never be displayed with the union (the starred blue union) down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. The Code establishes advisory rules for display and care of the flag in Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code.

This is a federal law, but there is no penalty for failure to comply with it. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that punitive enforcement would conflict with the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

In 1987, I raised my right hand and took the following Oath of Enlistment:

“I, (State your NAME), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Every individual who has worn the uniform of our country has taken the same oath. An oath to defend our country and Constitution.

I, myself, do not like the fact that this individual has chosen to disrespect our flag in this manner. I do not like the fact that this individual has used our flag as a tool to protest some feelings of inadequacy in their life. I will however, fight for his right to do so under the first amendment of our constitution.

I remember when Desert Storm broke out and an individual in our county chose to fly their flag upside in protest. As a young vet, I was enraged that someone would take this action in a time of war. I ran the plans to “correct the situation” past Coy Bishop, my dad.

He was a decorated Veteran of the 102nd Infantry Division in WWII. His words in response were simple but strong.

“Son, as a vet, you will face this situation several times in your life. You may not like it, you certainly won’t agree with it but it takes guys like you to insure that  knotheads like that maintain their right to disagree with our government. Getting yourself in trouble won’t help the situation. Talking to him probably won’t help either because in the end, you can educate the uneducated but you can’t fix stupid.” 

So, it doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican, white, black, yellow, red, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist or aetheist. I don’t care. The United States of America is still the greatest country in the world to live in, love it or not.

And, as Coy Bishop would say, “I will defend your right to be an absolute knothead until my dying day, no matter how dumb you are.”

Doug Bishop

Baxter

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