Flag Amendment Fails

June 27, 2006--Posted at 6:45 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR--After a six-year hiatus, a constitutional amendment to protecting the American Flag from desecration headed to a vote in the U.S. Senate. The same amendment failed in 2000 by four votes. This time it was even closer just missing the two-thirds vote 66 to 34.

It was a popular form of protest in the 60's and 70's, but the number of reported flag burnings in the U.S last year was only 4. For a number of citizens that is four too many.

"If you think I am going to let someone burn it, it wouldn't happen. I might go to jail, but no one is burning the flag in my presence," said National Executive Committee member for the American Legion Bob Wamble.

Wamble is a member of the American Legion and an active member in the Citizens Flag Alliance, a national group pushing hard for the Senate to pass the flag burning amendment. The same amendment has already passed in the house. Wamble, a former marine, who served in Korea and Vietnam, believes burning a flag desecrates the memory of over a million people who have died protecting this country.

"The flag, to me, represents all the things that America stands for. The flag is a living thing and you shouldn't burn something that is alive," said Wamble.

The Citizens Flag Alliance have worked hard to get the necessary 67 votes to pass this amendment. They were up to 66 and lacked one vote, A vote that could have been found right here in Arkansas.

"Senator Mark Pryor could pass that amendment, but he chooses not to vote for it. I hope voters remember that in the next election," said Wamble.
Opponents like Pryor and 33 other senators believe it's a non issue. Furthermore, many believe this potential amendment is a blow to free speech.

"There is not a problem, so it is not broke, don't mess with it. Secondly you are messing with the First Amendment," said ASU political science professor Charles Hartwig about the opposition to the flag amendment.

Hartwig believes that if the amendment had passed it could actually lead to more flag burnings, as opposed to reducing that number.

"If you want to challenge the government, as lots of people want to do, it would be a perfect vehicle to get media attention," said Hartwig.