(Editor's Note: The following is a commentary from U.S. Rep. Todd Aki's regarding the Pledge Protection Act of 2003.)
June 13, 2003
On 14 June 1777, before the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution, the Continental Congress adopted the following resolution:
"Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: That the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
Thus was born the flag that has come to represent freedom and liberty to people the world over.
Almost 175 years later, in 1949 President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day. In many respects this act simply acknowledged what had become a tradition throughout the United States, recognition of the "birth" of the Stars and Stripes.
School children carried small flags and sang patriotic songs. Adults gathered to hear patriotic speeches and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the flag and the Republic for which it stands.
In a country whose people find their unity not in their ethnicity or cultural heritage, but in their devotion to a commonly held set of principles, the red, white and blue of the American flag has become the physical representation of their unity as a people. A people united by their devotion to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. That all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Rights granted, not by government, but by Divine authority.
Unfortunately, in recent years the federal Judiciary has deemed it "constitutional" to desecrate the flag of liberty and sought to remove from the mind of men that our liberties are a gift of God, by declaring Him "unconstitutional." In response, the people of all 50 States, through their State legislatures, have called on the Congress to protect the flag through Constitutional amendment.
On June 3rd the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 300 to 125 an amendment authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag. It remains to be seen if the Senate will heed the call of the people and defend the flag.
As a Member of Congress, I am obligated to act when the rights of the people are assaulted. For example, the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional is such an assault, which is why I introduced HR 2028, the Pledge Protection Act of 2003 (PPA). The PPA utilizes Congress' power to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts, and would remove the issue of the pledge's constitutionality from the province of federal district and appeals courts.
For more than 225 years the flag adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 has inspired this nation of States and its people. It has come to symbolize to the world a land of freedom and opportunity unmatched in world history. On June 14th, I trust my fellow Americans will continue the fine tradition of celebrating the birth of the flag that has symbolized the unity of a nation for more than two centuries.