Testimony of Veteran Marvin Virgil Stenhammar Against the Flag Desecration Amendment

Document Date: July 8, 1998

Testimony of Marvin Virgil Stenhammar
U.S. Special Operations Command (Retired)
Against the Flag Desecration Amendment
before the
Senate Judiciary Committee

As a veteran of Beirut, Panama & Desert Storm, I feel very strongly about our flag and what it stands for. I am permanently disabled as a direct result of my 15 years of service to our country. I feel that our flag “Old Glory” stands for FREEDOM, JUSTICE & LIBERTY. It also symbolizes the BLOOD SPILLED by American service men and women who gave so much to protect it and what it stands for.

Though many of my colleagues and friends died, and were injured or wounded in action, they really were not wounded for it, the flag, but rather for it, Liberty and what the flag stands for. In reality it is really just a symbol of that sacrifice and more importantly, our American ideals. Therefore, I am writing in opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw desecration of the flag. This legislation, SJ Res. 40, is an unnecessary intrusion of our civil liberties.

During my years as a Paratrooper & Special Forces “Green Beret” I had the opportunity, to travel to, and be involved with several countries with evil, oppressive governments. Governments, where the peoples civil rights were often abridged, or did not exist at all. I swore then that I would never live in a country, where the symbol of the government, became more important than the peoples rights to live free under that government. I feel that the right to protest & political expression, no matter how stupid or offensive it may be to the majority, must be allowed, as long as it is peaceful.

This flag amendment will place a higher value on an inanimate object, a symbol, than the rights of the people living under it. The Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights, gave protection to “We The People”. Flags, no matter how honored, do not have rights, people do, please protect them.

Any country that places an inanimate object, over its people has no real liberty. If this amendment passes, I feel flag burning will become a common form of protest against this ill-conceived policy.

As a true conservative, I ask you, when did it become conservative policy to recommend several changes to the Constitution? My brand of Conservatism does not include this doctrine. You need to help enforce the existing laws. Strengthen them as necessary, get rid of the stupid ones, and stop making new ones. I feel you have better things to do with your time & our tax dollars, than changing the constitution, for something that rarely occurs and is typically done by immature idiots. Please do not support this bill.

Thank you.

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.