Page 12


CRAZY for the red, blue, and white Houston Today I put a plastic replica of 01′ Glory in my lapel. That gesture kicked off a campaign that has smoldered inside me for longer than I can remember the campaign to reclaim my flag. The catalyst came at lunch time several weeks ago when a young friend bemoaned the fact that the executives of his Establishment employer wore flags in their lapels. Baiting him I said, “Why does that bother you?” “You know,” he responded. Yes, I do. It isn’t the flag itself; it is the motives we associate with the wearing of the flag. The flag has been captured by and used as the private symbol of those who wrap in our flag themselves and their prejudices, contempt for progress, distrust of the Bill of Rights and abusive criticism of the Supreme Court, elected officials and all others who espouse views different from their own. They have wrapped all these things and themselves in the flag and made that proud banner not a symbol of a beloved country but instead a symbol of all the things that are inimical to the real meaning of our form of government. Anyone who is against them is against the flag and is against the nation. And if we react as my friend did upon seeing the flag, then we have let them take our flag. Their perversion of the flag has made it an instrument that divides America. Yet, if there is one symbol that should unite us, despite our differences, it is the flag. Well, I’m not going to let them get away with that anymore. If we take our flag back, they will have to justify their bigotry and selfishness on some other grounds or with some other symbol. We know that the flag is the symbol of a nation that conceived the Bill of Rights, that grew out of a longing for representative government, that from its earliest days, step by step, has endeavored to give all its citizens equal protection of the law and an equal opportunity, that has tolerated, if not always encouraged, differing views, the consideration of which has led this nation, with occasional deviations, toward accomplishing the goals which were established by those incredible visionaries, the founding fathers. When I served as law clerk to Judge Walter R. Ely, Jr., of the United States Court of Appeals, he was designated to sit on a panel which was asked to determine 20 The Texas Observer the constitutionality of a non-Communist affidavit required of senior citizens desiring the benefits of the Medicare Act. The plaintiff was a sweet little old lady who closely resembled Mrs. Baird of bread package fame. In the courtroom her bridge club sat . behind her smiling. She was represented by A. L. \(for Abraham the American Civil Liberties Union. Wirin wore a greying goatee and reminded me of Lenin. After completing his argument on the law, he made an impassioned philosophical argument on behalf of the proposition he was advocating. When the hearing was over and the judges retired to chambers, Judge Ely, as he was removing his robe, reflected on this bearded attorney famous for his representation of unpopular causes, and said, “You know, I got the feeling in that courtroom that Mr. Wirin knows and understands more of what this country is about than most of us ever will.” A Dallas grand jury refused to return an indictment against officers of a bank who used pictures of the U.S. flag in advertisements. The ads were for Mercantile National, one of Dallas’ largest banks. Article 148 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a violation to place or cause to be placed “any word, figure, mark, picture, design or any advertisement of any nature on any flag, standard, or color of the United States.” A spokesman for the Dallas bank said the institution had received a flood of letters from citizens offering to pay any fine or even go directly to jail to defend the bank’s use of Old Glory. Daniel R. DeLorme, 21, has been charged in Houston with desecration of the United States flag. A Houston police officer said he found DeLorme loitering in a shopping center with an American flag sewn to the seat of his pants. Two Rice University students and a former student, all indicted on state flag desecration charges, have filed a suit in federal court asking that prosecution of their case be halted. They contend that the state law is “unconstitutional because it attempts to regulate private acts” and “is an unlawful state encroachment of a I think so, too. But the people who have commandeered our flag question his loyalty. They question the loyalty of anyone who espouses anything liberal, defends the First Amendment, believes in racial equality, questions military expenditures, insists on justice as well as law ‘n’ order, wants peace, and so on. They are sometimes described as super patriots but they are not. To me, they are not patriots at all. Chauvinism is not required for citizenship; not even patriotism to any degree is. But those of us who believe that this Nation and its form of government offer the greatest hope for the freedom of man should not be embarrassed to admit our devotion. Now is the time, longhairs, liberals, moderates and conservatives, to come to the aid of the land of the brave and the home of the free. Now is the time to take our flag back. MARC E. GROSBERG federally pre-empted area of legislation.” They say that their $5000 bond was too high. And as a mitigating circumstance, the plaintiffs ask the court “to take judicial notice of the multitude of citizens wearing and displaying the flag in diverse fashion, who go unprosecuted.” Sidney Drouilhet II, the young man who filed charges against the three desecrators, was honored with a dinner by the Houston Chamber of Commerce. Texas Cong. Wright Patman is advertising in his weekly newsletters an offer for constituents to buy U.S. flags flown over the Capitol. “If you already own a 50-star flag, you can forward it to me and I will make the necessary arrangements without cost to you,” Patman writes. “If you do not have a flag, I can purchase one for you from the House Stationery Room, where members of Congress are able to obtain flags at wholesale prices. Your check or money order should be made payable to the House Stationery Room.” The flag business at the Capitol has become so brisk that the government employs several persons to spend eight hours a day raising and lowering the stars and stripes. Flag news