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Flag Desecration
"Their flag to April's breeze unfurled; Here once the embattled farmers stood; And fired the shot heard round the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Texas

v.

Johnson
Flag Desecration

Chief Justice Rehnquist Dissent
June 21, 1989
Seal Of The Supreme Court
Excerpt:

In holding this Texas statute unconstitutional, the Court ignores Justice Holmes' familiar aphorism that "a page of history is worth a volume of logic." New York Trust Co. v. Eisner, (1921). For more than 200 years, the American flag has occupied a unique position as the symbol of our Nation, a uniqueness that justifies a governmental prohibition against flag burning in the way respondent Johnson did here.

At the time of the American Revolution, the flag served to unify the Thirteen Colonies at home while obtaining recognition of national sovereignty abroad. Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" describes the first skirmishes of the Revolutionary War in these lines:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.


Poem excerpt:

The Concord Hymn
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1837)

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free, --
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raised to them and Thee.


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