Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wave it bye-bye


I thought flag-burning was WRONG at all times, but here's a dad from Wyoming, Michigan who found it necessary to burn a New Jersey flag.

Here's the story:

A Michigan man whose son died in Iraq has burned the state flag of New Jersey after New Jersey flew its flags at half-staff in memory of Whitney Houston last week.

"They're watering down the term of what a true hero is these days," John Burri told ABC News. "I thought it was offensive to every family's fallen solider out there, and it cheapens the meaning of lowering the flag."

The 60-year-old's decision to torch the New Jersey flag on his Wyoming, Mich., patio grill came after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered flags flown at half-staff to honor the singer Whitney Houston, a Garden State native who was buried in her home state on Sunday.

Burri believes flags should only be lowered for those who died serving their country.

"My intention was not to hurt anyone, especially the residents of New Jersey," said Burri. "My intention was to show Gov. Christie how offensive it was."

The governor has defended his decision, calling Houston a "cultural icon."

"Her accomplishments in her life were a source of great pride for many people in this state and for the state as a whole, and so on that basis I think she's entitled to have that recognition," Christie told reporters last week.

After seeing Christie's comments on the local news, Burri said he set out on a mission to honor his son, Army Spc. Eric Burri, who died in 2005 when an explosive device detonated near the Humvee in which he was patrolling.
Burri bought a replica New Jersey flag, tied it to the back of his car and drove around two veteran memorials in Grand Rapids, Mich. He then stopped at his son's burial site before going home and burning the flag.

"Best $12.95 I've ever spent," said Burri.  "Sometimes, you have to do something drastic and extreme for people to listen," he went on. "I just hope it made a point that maybe someone will pick this up and get a new law made for flag etiquette."

Federal law gives governors of American states power to have flags lowered for residents or state officials.
There is no law requiring that person to have served in the armed forces.
According to the Associated Press, Christie's office has ordered flags flown at half-staff 42 times, including for Morristown coach Harry Shatel and E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

Burri still believes Houston could have been honored in another way.
"I have some peace now. This is done. The word is out there," Burri said. "I hope and pray something is done to prevent this from ever happening again."

Mr Burri, I have no doubt that you regard yourself as a patriotic American dad.  I join with millions - hundreds of millions - in being sorry for your loss.  Your son went to war and lost his life.  That has to be a monumental sorrow in your life, something that affects you every day as you try to go forward. 

This just burns me up.
But sir, you kind of goofed up.  By turning your sorrow into an act of outrage, you have defiled the sorrow of the Houston family, and before someone writes back to tell me that a soldier is worth a hundred singers, I say right here and now, we don't make that sort of value judgement.  Everyone stands alone here. The governor of New Jersey, a man with whom I very rarely agree, is nonetheless the governor of New Jersey.  It's within his purview to do what he did.  As they say in New Jersey, you gotta problem with that, already, go call the governor.

We hear all the time about flag burning when political candidates want to earn their Patriotism Merit Badge and loudly proclaim they are against the consecration of the cloth, the high-flying flag, the emblem of the land we love, the home of the free and the brave.  I can see their point to a certain extent, but also think it's the sort of an issue that really needs not come up.  I mean, do you really need to burn a flag to make your point?

And here's where the confusion comes in...all the big tough guys with the bumper stickers about "don't you dare burn my flag or I'll kick your ass" - does that only apply to the US flag, or to the flags of the individual states and territories?  You don't like Whitney Houston, so beloved for singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl at the very beginning of Bush the Elder's Desert Storm?  You loathe her so much that you burn the flag of her state?

How about this, Mr Burri?  How about, you find a way to honor the memory of your boy?  Maybe a scholarship fund, something like that?  And then, maybe you could crack a book and see why this country does not revolve around what just one person believes. 

Because I believe you need to apologize to the Houston family.

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