Friday, November 2, 2007

Do VA Employees Lose Freedom of Speech Because of "Separation of Church and State"?

A tradition had evolved at burial services in veteran's cemeteries. The text below was read about the folding of the American flag. However, now the VA has prohibited its employees from reading that text as part of the ceremony. The VA says that private participants may read it, but not VA employees who are part of the ceremony.

This blog contains numerous examples of quotes and actions by our early Government that prove the people who were most familiar with our Constitution saw no problem whatsoever with officials invoking God's name or asking for His blessing.

The same First Amendment misunderstanding that leads some people to think Government officials may not talk about God also contains the section about freedom of speech. It seems as though VA employees had that right abridged here.

The First Amendment, even if it purpose was to keep religion away from the Federal Government in some way, says that "Congress shall make no law...". The reading of this flag verse is not a law made by Congress; it is not a law made by a state (if you believe that the First Amendment's limits on Congress apply to the states because of the 14th Amendment); it is a tradition. The First Amendment in no way prevents Government personnel or agencies from observing traditions.

The unofficial reading in question is below. This not part of any official flag code; it is simply a tradition that many family members have appreciated. Any family could opt it out of their ceremony. Our military has many traditions that become part of such ceremonies, and often these traditions are not codified. According to this tradition, the 13 folds represent:

1. Symbol of life.

2. Symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

3. In honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.

4. Represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his guidance.

5. A tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

6. Represents where our hearts lie. It is with our hearts that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

7. A tribute to our armed forces.

8. A tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

9. A tribute to womanhood.

10. A tribute to father.

11. In the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

12. In the eyes of Christian citizens, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

13. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust."

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