This Flag Day Should Include an ‘Appeal to Heaven’ for Patriotism

We can learn a lot about people by the flags they fly and how they fly them, the flags in which they wrap themselves, and the flags that they oppose.

When pro-Hamas mobs burn Old Glory (and fly Hezbollah’s flag), we know where they stand. When pseudo-sophisticates revile flags of American Independence as symbols of oppression and hate, we recognize their rejection of the principles of our Founding Fathers. And when people fly cultural revolutionary flags alongside the Stars and Stripes, they show what they believe matters most.

Americans who surrender the flags of our country’s founding to their political opponents are, whether they realize it or not, surrendering America’s founding principles. We see this happen when patriotic Americans decide not to raise certain flags for their own cause — the defense of those principles. These flags include the Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and the Pine Tree flag that calls for “An Appeal to Heaven.”

Rather than fight to keep the flags for all, the anti-patriots surrender them as standards of extremism. This is tragic.

Less and less symbolism remains for Americans to rally around. The political elite even treat Old Glory as a mere political tool.

We observe Flag Day annually to honor our current national flag of 13 stripes and 50 stars. The day marks June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress defined the 13 red-and-white stripes and a blue union field with a circle of 13 stars as the official flag of the United States.

That flag, perhaps designed by Betsy Ross, has been under sustained attack. Critics pretend that it has a connection to slavery and racism.

Decades of relentless attacks on the American flag from university cultural Marxists broke the public sense of patriotism through popular culture. In a society seething with racism-is-everywhere obsession, San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick built a fawning following when he refused to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” at National Football League games, taking a knee instead.

That was in 2016. Kaepernick became a free agent at the end of the season but didn’t sign with any NFL team. Welcoming the controversy, the athletic shoe company and NFL partner Nike picked him up two years later as a brand ambassador.

In 2019, as Nike prepared to roll out its special Air Max 1 USA — with the Betsy Ross flag decorating the heel — for limited release on the Fourth of July, its brand ambassador reportedly decried the flag as tied to slavery. Nike withdrew the shoes and issued a sanitized public comment, and the racist theme predictably spread like a virus.

The controversy prompted Newsweek to ask, “Is the Betsy Ross Flag Racist?” The proper answer, many argued, was yes. So the deconstruction of the American flag progressed.

In 2021, purporting to describe “the symbols of hate and far-right extremism on display in pro-Trump Capitol siege,” ABC News included the Betsy Ross flag.

So did the FBI. An internal FBI “Domestic Terrorism Symbols Guide” to detect “Militia Violent Extremists,” leaked in 2022, identified “Revolutionary War Imagery,” the Liberty Tree, the Gadsden flag, and the Betsy Ross flag as potential terrorist symbols. The FBI Counterterrorism Division produced the guide, labeled “law enforcement sensitive.”

The document says much more about the FBI’s decline and its departure from a commitment to American founding principles than “domestic terrorism.” A survey of FBI social media posts on X, formerly Twitter, reveals that for the two weeks leading up to Flag Day, America’s top federal law enforcement agency featured the “LGBTQIA+” (yes, that’s the latest acronym) flag far more frequently than the American flag. One FBI post even featured the rainbow flag flying on a parallel pole angled above Old Glory with the slogan, “Because we are all Americans.”

Flying another flag above or to the right of the American flag is a violation of federal law. The Biden administration stomped on the statute to celebrate “pride” month in 2023, when the White House hung American flags from either side of a central LGBT “progress” flag on the South Portico.

Meanwhile, more American elected and judicial officials have made public rituals of carrying the red banner of Communist China. As grand marshal of a Lunar New Year parade last February, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared on a stage with Communist Chinese diplomats, stood for the Communist Chinese national anthem, and waved the Communist Chinese flag. A video showed Schumer alongside Chinese Ambassador Huang Ping and Wu Xiaoming, who has been tied to Beijing’s illegal network of “police stations” in New York.

Since then, Schumer and others have been silent as Hamas supporters waved Palestinian flags from national monuments and burned and stomped Old Glory.

Many of the politicians and pundits who were fine with all of this are scandalized that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann Alito, would fly an “Appeal to Heaven” Pine Tree flag at their beach house. They are outraged that she would briefly fly an inverted American flag on family property — and further outraged that the Heritage Foundation flew the flag in solidarity once the media trumped up the flag scandal as an attack on the Supreme Court.

Liberal or conservative, every American should respect the American flag. While some saw the Alito and Heritage displays as disrespectful or worse, federal law specifically permits flying the inverted flag as a distress signal.

Under the section “Respect for the flag,” the law states, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

Look around. Is our polarized country not in the midst of self-destruction? Is America today not in a time of dire distress?

Fortunately, there are pockets of patriotism emerging in some communities where leaders are committed to preserving what the founders created. More than 3,000 first-graders in Loudon County, Virginia, joined veterans on Memorial Day to build small wooden American flags provided by Flags of Valor, a veteran-owned-and-operated company that creates beautiful wooden American flags.

This Flag Day prompts us to reflect on the extreme dangers ahead and “Appeal to Heaven” for more communities to join in a patriotic revival to rescue our republic.

Originally published by The Federalist


Tommy Waller

Tommy Waller is the President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy. Waller retired from the Marine Corps Reserves at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after serving more than two decades on both active duty and in the reserves with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Waller joined the Marine Corps in 1998 on a NROTC scholarship, was commissioned in 2002, trained as an infantry officer, and then conducted multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq through 2006. During these combat tours he served in an infantry battalion, as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and as a Reconnaissance Platoon Commander for 2d Recon Battalion.

In 2007, he accepted orders to Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Virginia, where he completed the Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School and was the first recipient of the Captain Robert M. Secher Scholarship to the Wharton School of Business where he completed an executive education course on high stakes negotiations.

From 2009, when Waller left active duty, he would serve multiple roles in Marine Corps Reserves’ 4th Marine Division, with most of his assignments at 3d Force Reconnaissance Company, eventually rising to the position of Commanding Officer of the unit in July of 2019. During his time with 3d Force and 4th Marine Division, Company Waller conducted numerous missions on the continent of Africa and led a team of reconnaissance and intelligence Marines to Belize to conduct a counternarcotics/counterterrorism mission. He also completed the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and was cross assigned to serve as a key staff member of the U.S. Air Force’s Electromagnetic Defense Task Force (EDTF).

Waller joined the Center for Security Policy in 2014. He served as Director of Infrastructure Security until 2021, when he was officially named the Center’s Executive Vice President.

He holds a BA in International Relations from Tulane University.

EDITORS NOTE: This Center for Security Policy column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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