- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Virginia Beach photographer and Navy veteran stirred up a national debate on flag desecration when she took a picture of a baby swaddled in Old Glory.

Vanessa Hicks posted her flag baby picture March 8. The debate that followed on multiple social media platforms led to national coverage by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CNN.

“This flag is a symbol of everything my son died for many years ago. It was of the utmost honor to have a flag laid upon your coffin as my son did. That honor is taken away when disrespectful photographers throw our flag code out the window,” the creator of the “You Call Yourself a Photographer?” Facebook page wrote.

Ms. Hicks told a local CNN affiliate on Tuesday that she was “heartbroken” and “in shock” at some of the vitriol aimed at her in response to the photo.

“I do believe that this picture right here shows what it means to be an American. That flag, the uniform, that baby — exactly what every service member is out there fighting,” Ms. Hicks told the station.

Many commenters on the “You Call Yourself a Photographer?” Facebook page agreed with Ms. Hicks.

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“I would wrap myself, my child, and anything else I valued in the flag because I am proud of my country, and that flag is a symbol of my country. I’m glad that veteran could wrap the baby in the flag. God Bless America!” wrote Kenneth Harper.

“I see a baby supported by the American Flag just as when grown that very same child will hold and support the flag and all it stands for. The child is an American and America should be proud to have him or her they are the future,” Donna Marshall added.

A 2008 Congressional Research Service report covering The U.S. Flag Code said the American flag should not be used as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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