On July Fourth, many people will go to Arlington National Cemetery to honor the heroes of the United States of America. Some will be there to honor family members buried there and many others will be there pay their respects. But there is one item that’s strictly forbidden to be taken on to the grounds and you will be shocked at what that is. The American flag is banned. Violation of that ban can carry a one year prison sentence.
However, it is not banned due to political correctness or hatred of the military as you might think. The ban is due to a bill sponsored by Republican Rep Mike Rogers. The bill was passed in 2006 as a way of stopping the mental midgets from the Westborough Baptist Church from protesting as relatives were burying their loved ones.
“Families deserve the time to bury their American heroes with dignity and in peace,” Rogers told the Associated Press in 2006. Rogers did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Washington Post.
The bill received widespread bipartisan support and passed easily.
The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the law, saying it raised the possibility of government censorship.
But Lee Rowland, an ACLU lawyer, said that when it comes to flags, the law is written carefully. By banning all flags, the law purposely avoids violating a visitor’s First Amendment right to free speech.
“In the eyes of the law both an American flag and a Nazi flag express a clear message and thus are both worthy of First Amendment protections no matter how much we may disagree with one of them,” Rowland said. “It’s an all-or-nothing proposition . . . Even if the results in practice may feel unjust.”
Tim Marshall, the author of the 2017 book, “A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of National Symbols,” said that the American flag has represented, liberty, loyalty and rebellion. Although hoisting the flag can be a form of patriotism, Marshall said, burning it can also be an expression of freedom.
Arlington spokeswoman Barbara Lewandrowski said that before Memorial Day, members of the Army’s 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place small flags in front of each of the cemetery’s 280,000-plus headstones and burial markers. These small flags are exempt from the law, which allows for displays as “part of a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony.”
“Arlington National Cemetery staff works diligently to honor and respect all families who come to pay their respects to loved ones and we tirelessly ensure a safe and peaceful environment for our visitors,” Lewandrowski wrote in a statement to The Post.