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Statement Related to S. J. Res. 12 – Flag Amendment

Senator Michael B. Enzi

June 27, 2006

Mr. ENZI: Mr. President, I rise in strong support of S. J. Res. 12 which proposes an amendment to our Constitution allowing Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the resolution introduced by my colleague from Utah.

Throughout the years of our nation’s existence, many brave men and women have fought and died to defend the freedom that our flag symbolizes. We must honor their memory by protecting our flag and preserving this symbol of our nation and the unity of the 50 states. I have heard from veterans across my home state of Wyoming about their service and the importance of the flag in both their military and civilian lives. Our flag is a constant reminder of all those who have sacrificed so much so that we might be free.

We are now engaged in a new and different kind of war. We have taken up arms to end the threat of terror. We have been joined by many different nations in that effort, but we are, once again, relying on our own armed forces, the greatest fighting force in the world. With the talents and abilities of our service members, and our support and prayers, I have no doubt they will get the job done.

When our deployed troops return home, they will deserve our support and encouragement as they return to their everyday lives. I believe they will also expect us to take action to ensure the symbol of our nation that they carried with them into battle is afforded the protection it deserves. We must ensure our flag is respected and protected as a symbol of our freedoms and the sacrifices that were made.

Over the last couple of days, some members of this body have made some misleading statements about what this resolution does. Let’s be clear – this piece of legislation does not ban anything. It does begin the process of restoring the authority of Congress to pass a flag desecration statute. A Constitutional amendment will only become law if it is approved by three-quarters of the states.

I have also heard some of my colleagues claim that the language we are debating is too vague. Again, this is simply the first step in a process. The details will be debated once Congress regains its authority to make laws related to the desecration of the flag. It is then the job of those in Congress to talk about and debate the definition of desecration and what that word will mean in our laws.

Again, I believe our flag should be protected as a symbol of this nation and our history. It represents us in military actions, in athletic competitions, diplomacy, and any activity we engage in around the world. The flag helped rally the nation after the attacks of September 11, 2001. It calls to mind those who serve on our police, fire and emergency response teams, risking their lives every day to ensure we are safe and protected from harm.

Diana and I have a friend from Finland who taught in the United States for a year. She had a flag of Finland that she traveled with while we were debating a flag burning amendment. She couldn’t believe that anyone would dishonor their country’s flag by burning it. As a symbol of the country, she couldn’t believe that anyone would desecrate it in any way. She couldn’t imagine that burning or desecrating the flag of a person’s own country could have any positive effect. She believed that what people were doing to the symbol of our nation would have a very detrimental effect overseas.

Changing the law may not change people, but the discussion alone that we are having should point out what is right and wrong and how other countries view the disrespect that we demonstrate for our country. People are missing the issue of the protests. They are only seeing the disrespect for the country. We can do better. We must do better. This amendment will help us do better on focusing on problems instead of drama that takes away from ways we can make our lives and our country better.

Our flag symbolizes our hope for the future and our willingness to work together to make this world a better place for us all to live. That hope for tomorrow unites us, guides us, and helps to make us truly one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.

I encourage all Senators to support S. J. Res. 12 and I yield the floor.