Not A Question Of Patriotism

american flag us flag u.s. flag
This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
I get it, but I don't have to like it.

You've heard, no doubt, about the renewed movement to create an amendment to the Constitution banning flag desecration.

The American flag is a big deal in my family. We own several flags of historic value. And one of the proudest days of my life was when we presented my father-in-law, a Marine veteran who fought in the South Pacific, with a flag that flew over the Iwo Jima memorial.

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I'm one of those guys who gets choked up during the presentation of the colors at a Cub Scout meeting. Patriotism is not the question here believe me. But, I've lived a few years on this planet and I've seen a few things.

Like the revolution that swept through the former satellites of the Soviet Union in the late 1980's. The revolt -- largely peaceful -- drew throngs of people into public squares, many of them carrying their nation's flags.
Some of the flags had been ripped to smithereens -- giant holes in the middle where the national symbol used to be. The protestors made clear with their desecration the disgust they felt for their government. The pictures made chills run down our spines because we knew these folks were risking their lives to wage such a protest.

Imagine a day in the United States when government has run roughshod on your values, and failure to comply with its dictates means jail or expulsion. Might you burn a flag? Or rip one up in the public square? The Founding Fathers weren't afraid to think desperate thoughts like that. It's how the First Amendment was born.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith