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Step Back In Time

June 14, 2014

Step Back in Time: June 14, 2014

 25 years agoJune 14, 1989 

As Americans mark Flag Day today, reverence for the Stars and Stripes is not at its strongest, but a local politician wants to help change that by bringing tougher penalties against those who defame the flag.

More restrictions are needed to guide how the flag is treated, according to state Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford. Seward is seeking harsher penalties for those who mistreat the flag. And today, the state Senate is expected to approve one of Seward’s bills.

The legislation upgrades the charge of mutilating, defacing or defiling the United State flag from a misdemeanor to a felony, increasing the prison time to more than a year. The fine would remain at $1,000.

A code of etiquette for display and use of the flag, established by Congress, dates back to 1923. In 1968, amid flag-burning protests against the Vietnam War, a federal law was enacted with penalties of up to a year’s imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for publicly burning or otherwise desecrating the flag, according to the 1989 World Almanac.

“Americans have plenty of opportunities to express their disdain for the government. Mutilating the flag should not be one of those ways,” Seward said Tuesday.

He called the flag a symbol of America’s freedoms and said he does not believe those freedoms are lessened by charging people with felonies for destroying the Stars and Stripes. 

“There is a big difference between the freedom to express one’s opinion and mutilating the symbol of our country,” he said. “It’s inconsistent to tear down one of the symbols of our freedom, yet be insisting on freedom of expression.”

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