So many political hot buttons right now it seems as though any one subject instantly brings out the best and worst of our every freedom of free speech. Friends and families are divided among dozens of social issues. The country’s riff and unrest are heartbreaking and yet the fact that we can oppose our leaders openly is one of the most central ideals of America. So even when I disagree with those protesting, I’m still grateful for the freedom.
One of the many protests this week that caught my attention? The flag burners and the Fedex worker.
When I was a kid, flag burning was illegal. It wasn’t until 1989 that the US Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson (ironically, my home state and my maiden name) ruled that flag burning was indeed free speech and therefore protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment.
In the video, you can see that the protesters are bent on desecrating our flag. A Fedex worker named Matt Uhrin comes across their protest and engages the would-be flag burners defending the banner against a hostile crowd. Not only does he rip the flag from their hands, but when they decide to just light up another one, he comes back armed with a fire extinguisher and rips THAT flag from their hands as well.
In a flash, the protest goes viral on social media. Matt Uhrin, the Fedex driver, and his response to the intended harm of our nation’s banner– grabbed at the hearts of Americans who respected Matt’s response. It took guts to walk into an angry crowd and grab the flag, not just once, but twice. His actions could have easily cost him his job as he was wearing his Fedex uniform and on duty performing his job at the time of the protest.
Thankfully, FedEx posted on twitter that Matt Uhrin would NOT lose his job at FedEx and they stood behind their employee. Thank you FedEx.
And I just wanted to take the time and PUBLICLY acknowledge FedEx as the official “Gold Star Sled” for our American Gold Star Christmas project. For the last two years, FedEx has graciously underwritten all of our shipping costs as our non-profit organization, Believe With Me, has given hundreds of Gold Star kids (those who have lost a parent in the service of our nation’s military) thousands of Christmas presents. They have not asked for any public awareness, social media love, or any kind of praise for this quiet gift of gratitude they have given the children of our fallen soldiers. Thank you FedEx from the bottom of my heart for your kindness to America’s Gold Star families.
And thank you for further honoring the sacrifices of so many Gold Star families by standing behind Matt Uhrin and his response to the desecration of what so many of us hold dear. I understand someone’s right to burn the flag, I can see how it is an issue of free speech…but I also see that banner as the one so many fought and died for.
From Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key penned our national anthem about the flag to Iwo Jima where Marines raised it triumphantly over the island after the bloody battle and the loss of so many brothers in arms. I see it standing in the corner of my kindergarten class where I stood proudly each morning to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I see it draping the coffins of our soldiers as they return home in repose. I see it proudly waving over every car dealership and every courthouse as we drive across the country on road trips. I see it graveside every Memorial Day over the plots of those who served our country. That flag and the blood so many have spilled over the ideals she represents are sacred in my heart and in the hearts of grateful Americans all across this country. Thank you Matt Uhrin for your fearless response. Thank you FedEx for your support of our non-profit and for defending your employee.
And as my father in law likes to say….Everybody’s got a right to be stupid in America. It’s just that some people like to abuse the privilege.
*As a parent, I would encourage you to engage your children in discussing this topic. Show them the video (maybe mute the sound…there is strong language). Ask their opinions. Teach them how to argue both sides of the debate and defend their viewpoints.