Some may recall my name as the
military disc jockey portrayed in the film, Good Morning, Vietnam! Having had a film made
about my military escapades has led to some rewarding experiences. For example, veterans
come up to me, shake my hand, and thank me for helping them get through `Nam." I now
fully realized how much Armed Forces Radio meant; it was an antidote to culture shock and
homesickness. Looking back, I think we were successful because we gave our listeners what
they wanted: a sound as much as possible like stations they listened to back home.
Giving people what they want isn't just good radio; it's also the right
way to run a country. Our nation is built on the bedrock principle that governments derive
their just powers from the consent of the governed. A corollary is that, when laws are out
of touch with the people, those laws can and should be changed--from the most simple local
regulations to the highest law of the land, our federal Constitution.
In 1989, the Supreme Court found desecrating the American flag to be a
form of expressive speech and, thus, protected by the First Amendment. Once the Supreme
Court speaks on such a question, that's it! Period. As a matter of law, that IS what the
First Amendment says.
For over a century, though, almost all states had such laws and
everyone thought it was legal. When the Supreme Court corrected that misimpression,
Americans realized what the Constitution says is NOT what they THOUGHT it says, and it's
NOT what they WANT it to say. Opinion polls repeatedly show more than eighty percent of
Americans want to be able to protect their flag.
Our Constitution is a great document but, although it's not just a
"rough draft," it is less than flawless. The founding fathers provided that,
when necessary to make their document conform to the overwhelming will of the people, it
could be amended.
After years in broadcast management and advertising, I became a lawyer.
One of the things I learned in law school is that there's nothing wrong or undesirable or
dishonorable or destructive about the amending the Constitution. Without amendments we
would never even have HAD the Bill of Rights. Granted, the founders made it difficult to
change their document, but they DID intend the amendment process to be USED when
I submit that flag protection IS an appropriate issue for an amendment;
forty-nine states agree with me; that many states have passed resolutions urging Congress
to do so.
I always have been a strong, advocate of Constitutional rights
including freedom of speech and freedom of media. But the First Amendment, as I understood
it all my life, didn't protect flag desecration. Once the Supreme Court explained I was
mistaken, I began to think we should change the Constitution. I found a vast majority of
Americans agreed with me.
Still, a few argue we should never change the Constitution. Even if I
agreed, I would counter that the proposed flag amendment doesn't CHANGE the Constitution
at all. Instead, it restores it to what we all THOUGHT it said from the beginning. In
fact, until recently, the Supreme Court itself thought that's what it said. In 1907, in a
case called Halter v. Nebraska, (and in five other cases before 1989) the Supreme Court
upheld state power to regulate flag use.
Others argue against a flag protection amendment by suggesting it will
deprive us of our right to criticize our government. That argument, though, switches
meanings in mid-syllogism. It fails to distinguish between criticizing the government (a
right we all have and will continue to have under the proposed amendment) and criticizing
the entire nation by desecrating it's most revered symbol. The American flag represents
all of us and all the values we hold sacred. Flag desecration demeans all that is valuable
and desirable for ourselves and for our progeny.
Worrying that banning flag desecration would inhibit free speech
reveals a misunderstanding of the flag's fundamental nature. Our flag is NOT just one of
many political points of view. Rather, the flag is a symbol of our national unity. Martin
Luther King, Jr. didn't carry just a piece of cloth to symbolize his belief in racial
equality; he carried the American flag. Marines did not raise a piece of cloth above Iowa
Jima; they raised a symbol of our entire nation. In doing so, they declared the triumph of
our way of life over totalitarianism and dictatorship.
It is the will of the American people that we have a right to protect
our flag and this can only be accomplished by passing a Constitutional amendment. Such an
Amendment is now under consideration by the Senate. I urge the Senate to pass it and send
it to the states for ratification.
PHOTOS OF THE REAL ADRIAN CRONAUER
Click on image to enlarge it
Adrian & Jeanne Cronauer with your webmaster and his
wife Pam in Washington, D.C.
Adrian with Senator and Mrs.
Wayne Allard after being presented with the Home Of Heroes' American Patriot Award.
Here to Read Our Introduction to Adrian Cronauer
Click Here to send a message of support to your Senator
e-mail your comments