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SPECIAL REPORT

VETERANS AGAINST FLAG-BURNING AMENDMENT

By Faiz Shakir  

"VETERANS AGAINST FLAG-BURNING AMENDMENT"

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    COLIN POWELL: “The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will still be flying proudly long after they have slunk away.” [Letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, 5/18/99]

    Powell was a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is well-decorated for his bravey in combat during the Vietnam War

      FORMER SEN. BOB KERRY: “Real patriotism cannot be coerced. Our freedom to speak was attacked — not our flag. The former, not the latter, needs the protection of our Constitution and our laws.” [Op-ed, Washington Post, 6/15/06]

      Kerrey served in the Navy SEAL special forces unit during Vietnam and later received the Congressional Medal of Honor

        FORMER SEN. JOHN GLENN: “This amendment should be defeated. The dangers from it far outweigh the threat that we have to the flag. I simply do not believe that this is a major problem for this country requiring an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.” [Testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee, 4/28/99]

        Glenn flew combat missions in World War II and Korea for the Marines

          FORMER SEN. JOHN CHAFFEE: “This proposed Amendment would not expand the list of freedoms. This Amendment for the first time would limit individual freedom.” [Testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee, 4/28/99]

          Chafee served as an office in the U.S. Marines and later as Secretary of the Navy

            FORMER ASST. SEC. OF DEF. LAWRENCE J. KORB: “During my years of military and civilian service during the cold war, I believed I was working to uphold democracy against the totalitarianism of Soviet Communist expansionism. I did not believe then, nor do I believe now, that I was defending just a piece of geography, but a way of life. If this amendment becomes a part of our Constitution, this way of life will be diminished. America will be less free and more like the former Soviet Union, present-day China, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or Afghanistan under the Taliban.” [Testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee, 3/10/04]

            Korb was Assitant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan and served on active duty as a Naval Flight Officer

              GARY MAY: “As offensive and painful as flag burning is to me, I still believe that those dissenting voices need to be heard…The freedom of expression, even when it hurts, is the truest test of our dedication to the belief that we have that right.” [Testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee, 3/10/04]

              May lost both legs to a landmine explosion while serving in Vietnam, later became the Chairman of the Veterans Defending the Bill of Rights

              JAMES WARNER: “People are born free. It says that in the Declaration of Independence. They have a right to express their opinions, even if I don’t like the opinions they express or the means by which they express it. They have a right to say it, even if those opinions are incoherent.” [Scripps Howard, 6/9/06]

              Warner was a former prisoner of war and domestic policy adviser to President Reagan

              VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE: “We urge Congress to preserve American civil liberties as guaranteed in the United States Constitution and its amendments. When it comes to the measure under consideration, we believe that the supposed threat of a few incidents of flag burning does not justify the first ever amendment to the First Amendment. The ability to express nonviolent dissent to government policy is central to the American way of life, and we are loathe to amend away this fundamental liberty.” [Link]

              VETERANS DEFENDING THE BILL OF RIGHTS: “The flag amendment is opposed by a broad spectrum of individuals encompassing conservative and progressive beliefs, including thousands of veterans, who fear the implications for basic American freedoms if the amendment were ratified.” [Link]

              VETERANS FOR PEACE: “Be it resolved that Veterans for Peace opposes the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ‘protect’ the flag and calls on veterans, citizens and other organizations to oppose it.” [Link]