Thursday, June 23, 2005

On the Flag Burning Amendment

So, in spite of everything that's going on in the world, the Republicans in the House felt that it was necessary to ban the burning of the American flag. I am of mixed opinions of this.
During the war in Viet Nam, I remember seeing smuggled film of our POWs being held in the Hanoi Hilton clandestinely displaying a home made American flag. At the time, I couldn'g understand why they were using their resources that we knew to be limited, to making this flag. It was only during my Survivor Instructor training that I came to appreciate why they had done that.
As part of our training, we had to undergo expanded Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training. The Air Force has a specially created compound on Fairchild AFB that they use for this type of training. We were made to wear hoods over our heads, and walk to different locations by putting our "paws" on the criminal in front of us and follow them to where ever we were to go. During the day, we were kept in isolation in small cubicles, where the guards would come around and make sure that we were not sleeping. The whole time, we were made to listen to Chinese music, which, if you are Westerner, is rather grating with its quarter tones, and shrill voices. If you really screwed up, you would be put into the "box" which was only a little bigger than a filing cabinet.
I learned though, that if you were put into the box, (it was used to check for claustrophobia) you could actually sleep until they pulled you out. They eventually caught on and quit throwing me into the box, no matter how many times I begged and pleaded not to go there.
We were also subjected to interrogation, where we were expected to admit that we were war criminals, and indocrination classes. It was a real hoot, and the guys who ran the camp were very good at doing what they did. You quickly came to a psychological point of believeing that you were in a POW camp. (Logically, I had to know that it was just training, but, perhaps because of my youth, I really did believe that I was in a camp.
At night, we were made to do labor outside. During the entire time, the flag of some communist country was flying and spot lit so that we could all see it at all times. One of our tasks was to build a reinforced "garbage pit" in the middle of the camp. We learned that it was really going to be used as a gun emplacement to shoot at our aircraft, a clear violation of the rules of war. One guy would carry a sandbag over to the pit being built, and I would then pick it up and carry it back out to where it started. I never learned who the guy was that was carrying the sandbags to the pit, but that SOB was working my ass off!
We had no sense of time, and never knew how long we were in there. We were always placed into our cages before it got light, and with sleep deprivation, never knew what time or even what day it was. We knew that something was wrong one day, when the sun started to come up and we were still outside. The camp Commandant called us into formation and told us that the American aggressors were coming, and would murder us, since we had learned the truth about the peace loving People's Democratic republic of something or another. Therefore, we were to be made to march to a "safer camp" for our own protection. At the time, I was thinking that this was my best chance for escape. We were made to put the bags over our heads, and then told to do an about face. We were then told to remove our bags, and the US flag was flying on the pole where the other one had been all that time, and they started to play the Star Spangled Banner. I will not lie, I was bawling like a baby when I saw my country's flag.
Later, when I was in the Army, I had a First Sergeant who said that if you didn't have tears in your eyes when you heard the national anthem, you were a "goddamned commie." It is really only those who have been outside our country and faced the loss of protections that we take for granted who can understand what the flag means to us. I know that for most Americans, it is just a piece of cloth, or a symbol of all of the wrongs that we have done to this world. But to me, it is a symbol of hope, and belief in the future.
So, now they want to make it a crime to burn the flag? One of the things I served in the military for, was to protect diversity of opinions, even if they are idiotic opinions. I may not agree with what you say, in fact, I may think that you are a moron, but I am obligated to protect your right to say it, otherwise my morinic opinions could be subject to being shut down as well.
Let's keep the Constitution free of this, but a piece of advice, don't go burning the American flag in front of the VFW. They may exercise their opinion of your opinion by kicking your butt.


KarbonKountyMoos said...

Thank You.

Anonymous said...

This is to the writer of this blog.

I am an Airman First Class in our great US Air Force. I am in a career field where my training required me to go through the training that you have described in this blog. Especially you serving in the Military with myself and all of the other brave men and women, I do not appreciate you describing the CLASSIFIED training the Air Force has given you. I do beleive revealing information that is under the title of "CLASSIFIED" is ILLEGAL. Since you have been through the school you know about the "Classified" part of the schoolhouse is behind locked doors. Those doors were in fact locked for a reason... because (obviously you have not figured out yet) the information that you were privvy too is CLASSIFIED. Obviously we do not want other countries knowing how our Troops in foreign countries are being trained. They're resistance techniques are useless if the ENEMY knows what they are and how we are instructed to use them. In correction to this article, I am sure that anybody else in the Aircrew AFSC as well as myself would appreciate you taking this article off the internet. Having it up for almost two years is enough damage.