Similarly, our country's flag is merely a piece of fabric. Would our nation cease to exist if our historical documents were destroyed? Of course not. Just as patriotism would not die if an angry protester took a torch to the Stars and Stripes. What the flag represents is the very right to burn it. Is flag burning offensive? You bet, but so is cross-burning, Klan rallies, and hanging political figures in effigy. Part of the price of living in a free country is that we have to allow citizens the right to voice their opinions, especially when we don't agree.
Several years ago when Wyoming college student Matthew Shepherd was killed in an anti-gay act of violence, many of us were sickened by the sight of so-called "Christian" groups using his funeral as an opportunity to spew their hateful venom. Carrying signs and chanting slogans that condemned Shepherd's lifestyle and proclaiming that he "got what he deserved," these protesters exercised their freedom of expression at the expense of a family grieving the loss of their son. To anyone with a shred of decency, these antics should have been just as shocking and offensive as setting a match to the flag. However, the same laws that should have protected Matthew Shepherd's rights also protect the rights of narrow-minded hatemongers.
Acts of protest and defiance have long been a part of our country's history. When a group of Bostonians dumped tea in the harbor, when African Americans sat at a lunch counter and demanded to be served, and even when Bob Dylan sang an anti-war anthem, they were all using their right as citizens of a free nation to rally for change. If burning the flag is your choice of expression, as offensive as that may be, this freedom to express is what our country was founded on and what defines us as a nation.
In another room in our nation's capital, displayed for all to see, is the original "Star-Spangled Banner." She is stained, torn, and tattered, but indeed "our flag is still there." As long as the flag still flies in the hearts of those who love freedom, it doesn't matter if she flies from the nation's highest flagpole if that nation doesn't value what she represents.
Raised in Davis County, Brandvold is employed in the financial industry-and proud to be a Utah Democrat.