I want you to use your imagination for a moment. Picture yourself walking a mile in somebody elses boots.
You are in the heat of a ground battle. Death and destruction are all you can see through the haze of dust and exploding hunks of earth.
Exploding rockets and towering flames radiate overtures of death. Artillery blasts pound your eardrums and rattle your rib cage.
The smell and taste of gun powder overwhelm the senses.
The enemy controls the city in which you are fighting. Survival appears bleak. If this continues, you KNOW you will meet your maker.
Your adrenaline is flowing ... fast. Your heartbeat pounds like an air-hammer.
But you and your comrades are NOT throwing in the towel. For you are fighting for freedom. You hang tough through the night.
When the sun comes up, you and your buddies look for a sign of hope. You know youre alive. But you need to know that the life youre clinging to is worth living. You need to know that your CAUSE survived the battle.
Youre an American soldier, fighting the British at Baltimore Harbor in 1814 because you believe in a free, independent United States.
When you look into the sky, you see the unifying symbol of everything you fight for. What a beautiful sight!
The American Flag -- Old Glory -- is wafting gently in the breeze. Shes a bit tattered -- and so are you. The Flags presence shows AMERICA is still alive, too.
So are the dreams of a proud and strong people -- the American people.
The Flag is not just a piece of cloth. The American Flag is a symbol of freedom. The American Flag is a symbol of libertys triumph over tyranny. The American Flag represents the freedom that people gave their lives for.
We pause on Flag Day to reflect on the significance of Old Glory.
If you served the United States in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or the Persian Gulf War, you looked up at Old Glory. If you served in El Salvador, Panama, Lebanon, Grenada, Somalia or Bosnia, then you noticed the American Flag went with you. It -- no doubt -- held the same significance for you as it did for American troops in the nations struggle for independence.
If any of your loved ones served in the armed forces, then you know the Flag represents the cause that service members swear to uphold. The American Flag is the legitimate symbol of one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Dont tell me -- or anybody else who served under that banner -- that the Flag is not worthy of a special place in our society. Anyone raised with a sense of Americanism knows better.
Many of us wartime veterans who comprise The American Legion are a little tattered -- by time. But were still standing -- just like Old Glory was on that eventful morning in Baltimore that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star Spangled Banner.
As long as were alive, were going to fight to protect the Flag from fools who want to burn it to make a point.
Heres OUR point:
Desecrating our nations Flag is an ugly act of disrespect for the patriots who took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.
Shielding Flag desecration under the First Amendment is madness.
The people who say Flag desecration is a form of free speech remind me of the British forces in 1814. They underestimate the resolve of the people who are fighting to preserve the Flag. They underestimate the will of 80 percent of Americans who favor a Flag-protection amendment
Im certain there is STILL some fight left in the 3 million men and women who call themselves Legionnaires. Isnt there STILL some fight left in us?
[PAUSE FOR RESPONSES]
I thought so!
I want you to use your imagination, again. Look into the future. We will someday win the battle to protect Old Glory. This will be a battle fought in the halls of Congress -- not on the streets of Washington or Baltimore. Even though politics can be -- in many ways -- like a street fight.
Our persuasive powers will be our weapons. We will exhaust our arsenals. The dust will settle on Capitol Hill after the battle.
Well ease our tired bodies into our favorite chairs. Well know that were still alive. But well want to know that our CAUSE survived the battle. Well read the newspaper -- looking for a sign. We will read about passage of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. It will simply say this:
Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the Flag of the United States.
The First Amendment is not threatened by that language -- at all. Making the protection of Old Glory the law of the land will be a legacy of a proud and strong people:
- People who call themselves Legionnaires.
- People who call themselves veterans.
- People who call themselves Americans.