A Virginia photographer, who is also a Navy veteran, has sparked outrage from some and praise from others for a photo that she took of military father Rodney Clevenger holding his newborn son wrapped up in an American flag, according to Fox News.
Dozens of social media users to accused the photographer of disrespecting the American flag. One person posted: “To use the American flag in such a way is disrespectful, rude, tacky, disgusting, and against the U.S. Flag Code… You have disgraced our fallen soldiers.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Vanessa Hicks said when she read that response, she “curled up in a ball and cried” and “second-guessed” herself. She “really believed what these cyber bullies were saying.”
“I got messages, things to say: ‘Go kill yourself. That you don’t deserve to be a veteran. Your husband should be ashamed of himself,’ and also attacks on the servicemember holding that baby as well,” said Hicks, whose own husband is currently deployed in the U.S. Navy. “So for me to just post a simple picture, a sneak peek of this person’s session on my business page and for it to get turned to this was not what I had anticipated.”
Rather than take it down, Hicks decided to take a stand and leave it up, because she believed in the photo and as the mother of two young daughters, she wouldn’t want them to back down from “any type of bully.”
“I did not feel that I had done anything wrong. I felt that this photo represents what every military member past, present, and future fights for – their family. They fight for that honor, that courage, that commitment, and that’s what this photo represented. And so I took a stand to that group, and it had just went viral,” she said.
To those who think the photo is “disgusting,” she says: “I ask them to look at the symbol of it, that as a veteran and as a wife to a husband who is serving. They are serving. People are not dying for a flag per se.
“They are dying for what the flag represents – how great it is to be an American in this country, for the freedoms, the rights that we are honored. That is what they are fighting for,” she said. “I think this flag and this picture represents everything it is to be a service member and to serve this great country.”
And to top it off, in an effort to turn this negative into a positive, Hicks is donating 15 percent of all proceeds from sessions she has booked since the photo flap to the USO.
Despite the negative reaction from some, the overwhelming response – 98 percent – has been positive, she said. “I have had people call me all the way from Kansas City, a hundred percent disabled combat veterans, saying ‘this picture is what I served for,’” Hicks said. “So I wanted to give back, and I figured that the USO who had helped me when I was in the military, this could be my way to finally give back to them.”
According to the U.S. Flag Code, Section 176: “No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America.”
“d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free… (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.”
The code is a guide for the handling of the U.S. flag. It does not impose penalties for misuse.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson in 1989 that flag burning is considered “symbolic speech” that is protected by the First Amendment.
“Criminal penalties for certain acts of desecration to the flag were contained in Title 18 of the United States Code prior to 1989. The Supreme Court decision in Texas v. Johnson; June 21, 1989, held the statute unconstitutional. This statute was amended when the Flag Protection Act of 1989 (Oct. 28, 1989) imposed a fine and/or up to I year in prison for knowingly mutilating, defacing, physically defiling, maintaining on the floor or trampling upon any flag of the United States.
“The Flag Protection Act of 1989 was struck down by the Supreme Court decision, United States vs. Eichman, decided on June 11, 1990.”
H/T Fox News