Veterans Urge House To Stop Attack on the Bill of Rights

March 23, 1999 12:00 am

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Tuesday, March 23, 1999

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers considering a proposed constitutional amendment to ban use of the flag in political protest heard from veterans opposed to the measure today.

Joe Rogers, a veteran of Desert Storm, Doug Clifton, a veteran of Vietnam, and former Rep. David Skaggs, a Vietnam veteran, asked a House Judiciary panel to preserve the freedoms they fought for around the globe.

They testified today representing the many veterans who say they oppose the flag amendment because they fought for the ideals of freedom and liberty embodied by the American flag, not for the flag itself.

“Seeing the flag stirs within me my pride and admiration in our country, its people and the many unsung heroes of our country,” said Joe Rogers, who served in the Navy for more than 27 years. “This amendment would diminish the meaning of our flag.”

“America is unique and special because the unpopular and the downtrodden are allowed to be heard,” Rogers continued. “This amendment would chip away at that right, weakening the very foundation – the First Amendment — that has made our country strong and great for over 200 years.”

Rogers recalled that he volunteered to join the military at a time when many of his peers were protesting against the Vietnam War. He said the naval oath — “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” — explained his choice to serve his country then, as it now explains his appeal to Congress to reject the Flag Amendment.

Terri Schroeder, a legislative analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, said “that she has been “deeply moved by the many veterans who have written to tell me that our battle against this latest effort to restrict Americans’ right to peacefully protest is one they already fought in hostile countries across the globe.”

“What unites us is not merely our flag, but our shared constitutional heritage as citizens of a country that is a standard bearer of freedom to the world,” Schroeder said.

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