6 U.S. heroes split evenly on flag amendment

Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Former Sen. Joh...
Former Sen. John Glenn at today's hearing.

WASHINGTON — Six American heroes who also share the title of United States senator split evenly today over whether the Constitution should be amended so Congress can outlaw flag-burning.

Three said the flag was such an important symbol that it must be protected, while three insisted prohibiting its desecration would do more damage to the freedoms the flag stands for than burning it would.

At a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the senatorial witnesses together had served in all of the major wars of the last 60 years. Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, they had served in the Army, Navy and the Marines. Some lost limbs; some received medals; one was a POW; all served with distinction.

Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., a Marine veteran who fought at Guadalcanal and in Korea, opposed the constitutional amendment, as did Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., a Navy Seal who lost a leg in Vietnam and is the only senator since the Civil War to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Also speaking against the amendment was former Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, a Navy pilot and one of America's original astronauts who last year made his second foray into space, at 77 the oldest individual ever to make such a journey.

The Flag Desecration

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