Posts Tagged ‘protest’

It pisses me off when I hear about someone abusing the symbol of our nation.  The recent Lil Wayne incident (not going to give him any more press by posting a link to his video here) is just one in a long line of tragedies our flag has seen since it was first flown.  It pisses me off because I have spent the last 20 years of my wife as a member of an organization whose sole purpose is to support and defend the Constitution of the nation for which our flag is a graphic representation of our country and our way of life.

More than some committing what I consider an act of desecration to our symbol, I hate the fact that more often than not, it is less the fact that they are desecrating the flag than the fact that they do not understand what that symbol stands for.  Despite the Supreme Courts ever present ruling that it is one of our inalienable rights in freedom of expression to do so these dumb shits hide behind the same right the flag is a symbol of.

So why does our flag draw such ire from some and such violent patriotic protests from the rest?  For that we need to steal a quote from a US Government Publications site that deals specifically with Ol’ Glory and her history.  In the words of Henry Ward Beecher:

“A thoughtful mind when it sees a nation’s flag, sees not the flag, but the nation itself. And whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag, the government, the principles, the truths, the history that belongs to the nation that sets it forth. The American flag has been a symbol of Liberty and men rejoiced in it.
“The stars upon it were like the bright morning stars of God, and the stripes upon it were beams of morning light. As at early dawn the stars shine forth even while it grows light, and then as the sun advances that light breaks into banks and streaming lines of color, the glowing red and intense white striving together, and ribbing the horizon with bars effulgent, so, on the American flag, stars and beams of many-colored light shine out together . . . .”

And from a 1917 Flag Day address by President Woodrow Wilson:

“This flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours. It floats in majestic silence above the hosts that execute those choices, whether in peace or in war. And yet, though silent, it speaks to us-speaks to us of the past, of the men and women who went before us, and of the records they wrote upon it. “We celebrate the day of its birth; and from its birth until now it has witnessed a great history, has floated on high the symbol of great events, of a great plan of life worked out by a great people…. “Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way in this day of high resolution when every principle we hold dearest is to be vindicated and made secure for the salvation of the nation. We are ready to plead at the bar of history, and our flag shall wear a new luster. Once more we shall make good with our lives and fortunes the great faith to which we were born, and a new glory shall shine in the face of our people.”

I have never worn rose-colored glasses in regards to patriotism and our faults as a nation have more than played out on the world stage scores of times over.  I recognize this.  As someone who has seem some of what the world has to offer I can say that I am absolutely proud to be an American and no matter who our elected leaders are, we are still better off than any place I have had the privilege of representing this great country in.  As I have listened to the debate stirred by the Lil-minded Wayne incident one thing I have come to realize it is less the person who has desecrated the flag as a means of protest that pisses me off than it is the person who uses the flag as a prop and as a publicity stunt who really makes me question what the destiny of our country is.

Protest and expression are fundamental rights for us because that was the impetus for that stoked the fires of revolution oh so many years ago.  While I completely understand the need to punch in the face a protester who is burning or destroying a flag in public gathering, I also recognize they are exercising their inalienable right to do so.  The ignorant celebrity who uses the flag as a dance floor simply because he is not going to feel any effects of doing so and because they are to ignorant to understand what cost has been paid deserves to have their grills busted out on a curb.

According to US Code:

The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.

Our Constitution is a living document that was written with very little direct and specific language that was meant to be adapted and interpreted in accordance with the times it is living in.  In this regard it is simultaneously perfectly simple and intensely confusing; no two interpretations will ever be identical, nor will they be everlasting.  Our flag flies as a living symbol of not only the Constitution, but all those people who have sworn to protect it.  It should be treated with reverence and respect, it is the oldest living being, the first true American.  Our National Anthem, originally written as a poem by Francis Scott Key, is an oral articulation of what our flag represents.  It inspires multiple times daily at various events.  It provides the heartbeat for the body which our flag represents.  Yet, as I have grown older, not only have I seen more and more intentional abuse of the flag, I have seen more and more children who have not been taught how to show proper respect during the playing of the Anthem.  Many of the times the words are sung they are not even done so without grossly embellishing it or even using the proper words.

There is no such thing as immortality, just longevity.  Our body, the flag, has reached over 200 years old, and the heartbeat behind it, the Anthem, is swiftly approaching that mark as well.  Irresponsible celebrity shitheads have treated her as if she were an inanimate object when in fact she is a living, breathing being.  We may have reached a point in our country where we have reached a high level of fatigue, at least that is my hope.  If we have reached the point where what have built is actually on its last legs then I hope the death rattle of the nation is loud and boisterous and gives birth to a better, more improved ideal that we can move forward with.

In deference to the history of our flag I leave you with the American Creed written in 1918 by William Tyler Page and the pre-McCarthy era, original wording of the Pledge of Allegiance:

I BELIEVE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AS A GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE; WHOSE JUST POWERS ARE DERIVED FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED; A DEMOCRACY IN A REPUBLIC, A SOVEREIGN NATION OF MANY SOVEREIGN STATES; A PERFECT UNION, ONE AND INSEPARABLE; ESTABLISHED UPON THOSE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM, EQUALITY, JUSTICE, AND HUMANITY FOR WHICH AMERICAN PATRIOTS SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES AND FORTUNES.

I THEREFORE BELIEVE IT IS MY DUTY TO MY COUNTRY TO LOVE IT, TO SUPPORT ITS CONSTITUTION; TO OBEY ITS LAWS; TO RESPECT ITS FLAG; AND TO DEFEND IT AGAINST ALL ENEMIES.

 

 

 

 

I hate to even write about the disgusting people, who call themselves godly, from the Westboro Baptist Church.  This is not the first time I have written about them, and it surely will not be the last.  Each and every time that I hear about them going to picket the funeral services of a fallen warrior I do my best to spread the word out and hope that as many people as possible will follow the fine example of the thousands of proud Americans at other funerals have done; stand together in a human wall and show the families of the deceased that their son, daughter, husband, wife, brother or sister that their sacrifice is appreciated and that there is one last guard to stand between them and the evil that this so-called church spews.  It may be their “right” as guaranteed by the Constitution that these fallen warriors chose to defend, but it is the right of every citizen to gather in protest to such an abuse.

No matter when they decide to spread forth their hatred, it sickens me.  It is more so when it happens local to my long time home of Fort Bragg.  There have been four Fort Bragg soldiers killed in action since the 30th of September.  There were also three members of the North Carolina National Guard killed on the 1st when someone decided to martyr themselves and take a few others with them.  SSG Donna Johnson of Raeford, NC was one of those unfortunate victims.  It is her funeral that WBC intends to picket.

I have been at Fort Bragg for a long, long time.  One thing I am very sure of, rain or shine, or any other dramatic weather, there will be a wall of humans, standing shoulder to shoulder, most of them with American flags proudly waving.  They will stand facing whichever way the hearse carrying SSG Johnson is coming from, between the WBC and the family.  When the time comes, they will turn their backs on the WBC if not already doing so and pay their respects to the fallen.

For many that show up, it will be their first military funeral.  As they go through the well-scripted protocols, end with the rifle salute and Taps, many will have tears in their eyes; most will jump noticeably with each volley from the weapons.  All will stand in silent respect as the flag is removed from the coffin, folded with precision and presented to the family recipient with the thanks of a grateful nation and one final salute.  Some of those first timers will not attend another military funeral, many more will unfortunately become veterans at the process.  All will walk away somber in mood, yet proud of the fact that they stood side-by-side with many people they did not know, to show a final respect to the family and remains of SSG Johnson.

All of those who have died in combat have done so to keep evil from extremism from ever reaching our shores again.  The unfortunate reality is, there is a Constitutionally protected, virulent form of evil sitting virtually untouchable right here in our own country and it rears its ugly head at the funerals of those fallen warriors.  It is a small price to pay to go out and protect those, in their final moments, who gave all they had to protect you.  They deserve it.

SSG Johnson’s service will potentially be held this Saturday, the 13th of October.  I have not been able to find a firm date as of yet, probably as a means to obfuscate the date/time from WBC.  According to their website it will be this Saturday at 10:15 at Raeford Presbyterian Church.  I will post more information as I find out in regards to the services.

I have intentionally not mentioned much about these turds.  They do not deserve the press.  I do feel however, that I should show you what passes as an obituary for SSG Johnson from WBC.  If that particular piece of hate and filth does not turn your stomach and make you want to stand guard for the family, then I feel sorry for you.

I am told SSG Johnson was a member of the local LGBT community and for the last year that has absolutely been her right as a soldier.  DADT was repealed last September, but none of that matters.  It never has.  She died doing her duty and answering what called to her.  That is what matters, to me that is all that has ever mattered and the evil Phelps family has no right to mar that.  I urge you to spread the word about this and make plans to stand side-by-side with other Americans, of each and every flavor there is out there, put aside your personal beliefs and honor the fallen.

I also urge you to take a look at the Freedom Remembered web and Facebook pages to see the faces of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

From Freedom Remembered

 

STAFF SERGEANT DONNA JOHNSON

RAEFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

K.I.A. 01 October, 2012 Khost, Afghanistan

Rest In Peace

Our wonderful friends of the Westboro Baptist Church have released plans to picket an upcoming prayer vigil for the victims of the tragic shooting Friday morning in Aurora, Colorado.  We are all accustom to hearing about their brand of bigoted religiosity and their perverted interpretations of the Bill of Rights when it comes to the military.  This time however, they are bringing their venom to bear on the civilian population that we all swore an oath to protect when we joined the military.

Time and time again, volunteers have willingly placed themselves, in massive human walls, between these monsters and the grieving family members of our fallen comrades.  Many, if not most of these volunteers have been members of our civilian population.  They gather for our comrades and their families, they take their time to say thank you in their own way, more often than not never having met anyone related to the service member.  It is their way of showing respect and solidarity in the face of what is wrong with our freedoms.

It would be a flagrant violation of regulations to show up in uniform to stand tall in a human wall.  Would it not be nice though to see hundreds of service members show up and give one last defense of the victims before they are laid to rest?  I can only hope that members of the military that are stationed in Colorado can band together and place themselves in the way, in the same way many civilians have supported us over the last decade.

One of the things that truly amazes me about this country is the complete inclusiveness that is experienced in the aftermath of tragedy.  It does not matter what your religious beliefs are, what your sexuality is, what color, race or any other normally exclusive factor you can find; Americans, real Americans, come through for those in need.  They do it at the grass roots level and they come together simply because that is what we do.

I hope to see in the coming days the monstrous response I expect in stark contrast to what miniscule protest WBC is normally capable of producing.  Americans standing together in protest of what we all know is wrong.  That is what gained us our independence and what has spurred change through our short history as a republic.  It is what will sustain us through changes we still need to make and lend voice to conquer what we know to be wrong.

A former Texas A&M Student, Ryan Slezia, organized a counter-protest to the rumored WBC protest of the funeral of LTC Roy Tisdale this week in Texas.  Tisdale, who was killed last week by a fellow soldier during a Fort Bragg safety briefing he was holding prior to his battalion beginning their Independence Day leaves and passes, was laid to rest at Aggie Field, his college Alma Mater.

WBC, who’s website is http://www.godhatesfags.com, has been labeled a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League for their anti-semitic and homphobic hate speech.  In the past they have protested at military installations and funerals of fallen service members with such disgusting speech, that recently there have been counter-protests springing up at the grass roots level.  The Patriot Guard Riders stood up as a volunteer assembly to help, at the next of kins request, by placing themselves between the WBC and their misguided ilk and those who wish to pay their final respects to the fallen.  Events such as Tisdale’s funeral have been the norm in recent years as well as hundreds and even thousands of people show up to allow those who wish to grieve by putting up their patriotic walls.

The event organized by Slezia involved over 650 people, the majority of which were wearing maroon shirts, the color of Texas A&M.  Maroon is also a very fitting color for the farewell of Tisdale as he served his many years in the military as a paratrooper.  As a paratrooper he as allowed to wear the maroon beret, which is the official color and head gear of airborne units in the Army.

As unfortunate as the untimely death of LTC Tisdale is, it is great to see that so many people can band together and allow his family and friends to have their final moments prior to his interment, while protecting them much in the same way LTC Tisdale dedicated his life to protecting Americans and our freedoms.  The WBC hides behind the 1st Amendment in its cowardly way each and every time they perform one of their poorly attended protests.  Seldom is there more than 10 or 12 people there, most of them are the children of the Phelps family who provide the core of this hate filled “church”.  People such as Mr. Slezia and the Patriot Guard let them know that it may be one of their rights to say what they do and to even protest when they choose, but it will not be allowed to affect those whom are suffering from the loss.

LTC Roy Tisdale
9 April 1970 – 28 June 2012
Click image for obituary

Republican NJ governor Chris Christie is starting to lose some of the shine the GOP has heaped upon him over the last few months.  The voice of reason in the GOP over the last year or so and the one person they were actually interested in running against President Obama, has somehow managed to step on his crank by ordering the flags across the state lowered in honor of the death of Whitney Houston.  This particular order has given rise to a multitude of criticism from citizens of NJ and across the country in general.  Christie has defended his order as a sign of respect for “a daughter of New Jersey”.  In my not so humble opinion there are numerous points of contention with bestowing an honor such as this upon Ms. Houston as tragic as her death may be for her family and fans.  Let me start with the Governor and work my way out because in all honesty, this ended more about him than it actually did Whitney Houston.

Like members of both parties and the Repubilibercrat Ron Paul, Christie is so convinced that HE IS AMERICA, that no matter how the people speak out, he obviously knows better and is not afraid to use his authority to do so.  Christie is the Governor of a state, which has a flag.  He could very well have chosen to lower the flag of the Garden State in memoriam to the entertainer, but no he had to elevate his power to the point of allowing his office and his state represent the collective sense of loss for the entire American Republic when he ordered the American flag be lowered as well.  Like many, I will be so bold as to say MOST, politicians these days, Christie took the authority of his office and despite the criticism, decided to do what he wanted simply because he could and he was arrogant enough to do so.  Admittedly he does exude quite the air of confidence and calm despite his rotund and portly figure, but considering America has turned in to one of the fattest nations on earth, I guess he is just representing us in a physical sense as well.

Politically speaking NJ has always been a bit schizophrenic.  Traditionally it is labeled as Democrat and a liberal state, yet the ideals when you speak across the people are more conservative in nature.  One of the many reasons for this is NJ is a heavy union state and they traditionally vote more towards Democrat than Republican.  I remember working construction back in 90 and talking to a union man who had just come back from voting for Clinton because that is what his delegate told everyone to do since that is who they were backing.  This despite the fact he was a Republican.  Since just about every career field in the NJ area is represented by a fairly robust and strong union, the state tends to run blue.  Considering the liberal bent of NJ from a political standpoint it was also not a surprise to see Christie exercise his capacity to be the Master Calibrator of the collective moral compass and veto the legalization of same-sex marriage.  He claims he wants it to be based upon the voice of the people and a public vote held.  We should all be aware that this generally means a politicians does not have the balls to say or do what he needs to do, they are trying to appease their party by not going against it’s core beliefs and give themselves the appearance of a person of the people.  Too bad he blew that appearance when he did not listen to the people and NOT lower the flags to half-mast.

Ok, to get back on track to the original topic.  Lets address Whitney Houston and her role in this whole mess; she died.  Period.  Honestly, was anyone really surprised when they heard about it?  I am not trying to be callous about it, I am sure to her close friends and family it was a tragedy, any death of a family member should be a tragedy for the family.  That is one of those things that goes undefined when you try to explain family.  But members of the general public, were we really surprised. really?  Maybe by the timing or of the circumstances, but this was not exactly a Black Swan event in the history of the world.  Like many entertainers that came before her, it was the circumstances of her chosen career which in some way led to her death.  Just in the last 40 years or so alone, how many musicians have succumbed to not only the immediate ravages of addiction and abuse, but the continuing effects that happened as a result of that abuse, despite no longer using mind altering chemicals.

In some way Whitney Houston died as a symptom of her inability to deal with her fame.  For longer than she was famous and viable as an entertainer, she was just as famous as a sideshow.  Her battles with drugs and alcohol were not hidden from the public.  Bobby Brown and she had a regular television show that showcased the issues weekly.  She was known to be a moody and contentious personality to work with.  Ego grown of her success did not diminish at the same rate as her gifts did.  In other words despite her ability to sing, she was, human.  As a human, like the rest of us, we are born to die.  you cannot beat it no matter your talent.

Here is a link to the United States Code which covers Old Glory and who/when it is proper do display under circumstances other than normal. US Code Title 4 .

The particular paragraph below should draw your attention, but please read the entire chapter.  I hate it when people take a line and twist the context to suit their needs without supplying the supporting phrases that surround it.

(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia. When the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, issues a proclamation under the preceding sentence that the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession or in the District of Columbia because of the death of a member of the Armed Forces, the National flag flown at any Federal installation or facility in the area covered by that proclamation shall be flown at half-staff consistent with that proclamation. The flag shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. The flag shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day. As used in this subsection—

(1) the term “half-staff” means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
(2) the term “executive or military department” means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5, United States Code; and
(3) the term “Member of Congress” means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
Here is just one of many requests to a local official to not recognize Governor Christie’s proclamation.  I think this is probably the best written one I saw over the last few days.
What do you guys think?